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Emma ivas not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey.— V. 25. 



EMMA 



BY 



JANE AUSTEN 



ILLUSTRATED BY HUGH THOMSON 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY AUSTIN DOBSON 



Hontion 
MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd. 

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN CO. 
1896 

A II rir-hi'; fexerved 



INTRODUCTION 

Emma, a Novel : By the Author of Pride and Prejudice ; 3 
vols,, i2mo, price One Guinea, was first announced in the 
Quarterly's list of New Publications for January 1816 — the 
year which appears upon its title-page. In common with 
Miss Austen's previous efforts, it was anonymous ; but 
whereas Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and 
Mansjield Park had been obscurely put forth by the obscure 
Mr. Egerton of the 'Military Library,' Whitehall, Emma 
was ushered into the world under the auspices of the great 
Mr. Murray. How this transfer of publishers came about 
is not stated; but from the fact that the announcement 
of Emma is immediately followed by that of the second 
edition of Mansjield Park, it must be assumed that the 
author's fortunes were now wholly entrusted to the Albe- 
marle Street house. Notwithstanding the date upon its 
title-page, it is clear that (as is often the case) Emma was 
actually in circulation in the December of the previous 
year, and at a still earlier date either the proofs or the MS. 
must have been in the hands of the Quarterly s reviewers, 
since the book is noticed at considerable length in the 
number for October 1815. Upon the growth and progress 
of the story the published correspondence of the author, 
as usual, throws no light. It should have been begun, how- 
ever, shortly after Mansjield Park was finished; and, in 
November 1815, — while Miss Austen was nursing her sick 

vii 



EMMA 

brother Henry at 23 Hans Place, — it was apparently passing 
through the press with all the tardiness traditionally attached 
to that operation. Proof of this may be said to be supplied 
by deprecatory explanations from Mr. Murray, and apologies 
from Mr. Ro worth, the Quarterly printer. But before 
the leisurely letter which tells Cassandra Austen of these 
things was ended, the book was proceeding — again after 
the customary fashion of books at press — by leaps and 
bounds; and in the next bulletin the author is wrestling 
with the printer's reader over the inevitable (and generally 
invaluable) marginal queries in proof. Before the middle 
of December, Emma was on the point of issue ; and before 
the year had closed it was in the hands of some of the 
writer's friends, including, of necessity, that distinguished 
Patron of Art and Letters, the Prince Regent, to whom, 
as already related in the Introduction to Pride and 
Prejudice^ it had been inscribed by invitation. In writing 
to the Prince's Hbrarian, Mr. J. S. Clarke, on the subject 
of the presentation copy, which was to reach His Royal 
Highness three days before any one else. Miss Austen 
(much in the same way as she had done to her sister with 
regard to Pride and Prejudice) sets forth her own ideas of the 
new book — the last, as a matter of fact, which she was 
destined to behold in type. ' My greatest anxiety at present 
is that this fourth work should not disgrace what was good 
in the others. But on this point (she says) I will do 
myself the justice to declare that, whatever may be my 
wishes for its success, I am strongly haunted with the 
idea that to those readers who have preferred Pride and 
Prejudice it will appear inferior in wit, and to those who 
have preferred Mansfield Park inferior in good sense.' 

1 Pride and Prejudice (Macmillan's Illustrated Standard Novels), 
1895, xvii. 

viii 



INTRODUCTION 

Upon any disparities between Emma and its immediate 
predecessor, Miss Austen must have derived but scant 
enlightenment from the notice in the Quarterly^ which, by 
some mischance, while professing to summarise her former 
novels, is absolutely silent as to Mansfield Park. Of the 
story of Emma it gives a sufficient report, and an extract 
of considerable length in illustration of Mr. Woodhouse's 
peculiarities. The merits of the author are declared to 
consist in the neatness and point of the narrative, and the 
quiet comedy of the dialogue, ' in which the characters of 
the speakers evolve themselves with dramatic effect ' ; while 
the faults are said to lie in the minute detail of the plan, 
and in a certain tedium in the presentment of such 
* characters of folly and simplicity ' as Mr. Woodhouse and 
Miss Bates. This latter deliverance, as may well be 
imagined, gave but qualified satisfaction to Miss Austen's 
first biographer, Mr. Austen- Leigh, nor was it to the taste 
of her next critic, Dr. Whately, who, five years later, in 
the same periodical, traversed both these propositions, 
besides devoting several pages to special examination of 
the neglected beauties of Mansfield Park. Miss Austen's 
minuteness. Dr. Whately argues, even if it can be 
characterised as tedious, is essential to that complete 
acquaintance with her characters which is necessary to 
interest the reader in them ; and in regard to the strictures 
which his forerunner makes upon her fools, he roundly 
maintains that it requires more genius to paint a fool than a 
person of sense, — 'that to the eye of a skilful naturalist, the 
insects on a leaf present as wide differences as exist between 
the elephant and the lion,' — and that the critics who find 
Miss Austen's fools too like nature, must (whatever deference 
they may outwardly pay to received opinions) also find 
Twelfth Night and the Merry Wives of Windsor exceedingly 

ix 



EMMA 

tiresome. In this, and in other parts of his paper, which 
unhappily was not published until after Miss Austen's 
death, Dr. Whately struck the note of subsequent criticism, 
by which, with more or less emphasis, these opinions have 
been reasserted — the comparison with Shakespeare not 
omitted. 'The hand which drew Miss Bates, though it 
could not have drawn Lady Macbeth, could have drawn 
Dame Quickly or the nurse in Romeo and Juliet.^ So says 
Mr. Austen -Leigh's latest successor. Prof. Gold win Smith. 
Yet a genuine admirer may perhaps allow that some of the 
excellent Miss Bates's speeches, even though they should 
be taken by the reader in double-quick time, would not 
be the worse for curtailment. * La nature est bonne a tmtter, 
mats non pas jusqu^a VennuV This, however, is the solitary 
concession we are disposed to make to the first critic of 
Emma^ whose depressing remarks upon its humorous per- 
sonages had probably their baneful effect upon the humorous 
personages of Persuasion. 

The prolonged interval which lies between the com- 
position of Mansfield Park and Emma and the composition 
of Miss Austen's previously published novels has doubtless 
prompted the discovery of a difference between the styles 
of the earlier and later work — a difference which is perhaps 
more expected than apparent. For, if a comparison of 
style must be made, it should surely be between the books 
last written and Northanger Abbey, rather than between 
those books and Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensi- 
bility, since both of these latter were revised by the author at 
Chawton, while Northanger Abbey was printed precisely as 
it had been left when the Bath bookseller buried it pro- 
visionally in his drawer. But without refining too nicely, 
it may be granted that the Chawton group of books exhibit 
just that progress towards perfection which should be expected 



INTRODUCTION 

when we contrast the efforts of a clever girl in her teens 
with the same person's productions after she has gained 
experience of life. We have seen that Miss Austen her- 
self was prepared to be told that Emma was less witty 
than Pride and Prejudice, and it is manifest that there 
is a prodigality of sparkle in the one which is — at least — 
subdued in the other. In Emma, indeed, Miss Austen 
appears to have adopted Mademoiselle de Lespinasse's 
motto of Rien en relief. With the exception of the some- 
what laboured outburst in Chapter III in favour of the old- 
fashioned boarding-school as against the new, the style is 
everywhere carefully subordinated to the needs of the 
narrative, while the slender thread of the intrigue is followed 
with the closest tenacity. The heroine, at first, is scarcely 
as winning as some of her predecessors, certainly she is not 
so clever. *I am going to take a heroine whom no one 
but myself will much like,' said Emma's creator at the 
outset, and in part she was right; for Emma's devices to 
alienate Harriet from Robert Martin do, at first, create a 
positive prejudice against her. But her character is so 
subtly and gradually developed, that by the time she has 
come to see the errors of match-making, and has reached 
the luminous moment when 'it darted through her with 
the speed of an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry no 
one but herself,' we are almost prepared to forgive her 
for being rude to Miss Bates. Whether Mr. Knightley 
really made an ideal husband is impossible to say, since 
Miss Austen, although she seems to have vouchsafed some 
supplementary particulars to her family respecting Frank 
Churchill and Jane Fairfax, has, on this topic, preserved a 
discreet silence. Lord Brabourne, who is only lukewarm 
about Emma as a novel, is distinctly of opinion that the 
marriage did not prove a success. But he is unreasonably 



EMMA 

prejudiced against Mr. Knightley, who, he says, * interfered 
too much.' Perhaps he does, but he loves Emma through 
all her faults, and all his fault-finding. Again, Lord 
Brabourne considers Mr. Knightley too old. But here he 
has Shakespeare against him : — 

•' Let still the woman take 
An elder than herself. So wears she to him, 
So sways she level in her husband's heart." 

Emma, let us hope, wore well, for she can only have been 
forty when her husband was fifty-six. Those, however, who 
regard Mr. Knightley as the Grandison of Miss Austen's 
little gallery will do well to bear in mind her own warning 
words: — 'They (Mr. Knightley and Edmund Bertram of 
Mansfield Park) are very far from being what I know 
English gentlemen often are.' 

Of the remaining characters, Frank Churchill is of the 
race of the Willoughbys and Wickhams, though perhaps more 
genuinely agreeable; while of Jane Fairfax and blue-eyed 
Harriet Smith, with the vacuous ' heart to let,' there is not 
much to say. The valetudinarian vagaries of Mr. Wood- 
house, with his cultus of thin gruel (which once moved a 
noble Earl to poetry in a contemporary Keepsake)^ his 
horror of the deadly effects of wedding-cake, and his rigid 
views on the reckless circulation of the muf!in, are certainly 
comic, if they do not even rise to tragedy at the point 
where poor Mrs. Bates is summarily deprived of her sweet- 
bread because the attendant asparagus is decided to be 
imperfectly cooked. But according to our strenuous modern 
ideas, Miss Austen would have succeeded in attaching us 
more closely to Emma's father if she could have given him 
some stronger rectifying qualities than amiability and polite- 
ness, and it is impossible not to be haunted by the feeling 
that he receives from those about him rather more con- 

xii 



INTRODUCTION 

sideration and devotion than he rightly deserves. Of Miss 
Bates and her inimitable (if inordinate) babble enough has 
been said. But the Eltons are little masterpieces. The 
husband with his watery acquiescences and stereotyped 

* Exactly so's/ and the flashy, rattle-pated wife with her Maple- 
Grove -and -barouche -landau background, are character- 
sketches of absolute fidelity to nature. Utterly commonplace 
they may be, but they are also undeniably alive. 

Turning the pages oiEnima as we close, we are reminded 
once again of the writer's limitations, or, to speak with 
stricter accuracy, of the limitations within which she prefers 
to exercise her powers. Her characters, as before, are 
taken from the middle classes; they live in a country 
village, to which the story is confined; and they are ex- 
hibited in enterprises of no greater pith and moment than 
are involved in the arrangements for a subscription ball at the 
Crown, or the preliminaries to a picnic at Box Hill. They 
are unperplexed by problems, social or political : if they are 
interested in riddles, — transcribed upon hot-pressed paper 

* and ornamented with ciphers and trophies,' — the riddle of 
the painful earth has plainly no place in that elegant 
anthology. There is a clergyman of whose theology we 
know no more than that lists were made of his texts, not 
because the discourses thereon were good, but because he 
himself was good-looking; there are a barrister and a 
magistrate, to whose practice of their respective vocations 
about three lines are devoted in three volumes. Books must 
sometimes have been read even at Highbury ; but the evi- 
dences of belles lettres are confined to three or four hack- 
neyed quotations (two of which belong to Mrs. Elton) and 
the casual mention of certain unnamed authors who lie (like 
Baker's Chronicle at Sir Roger de Coverley's) in the window 
seat at Abbey-Mill Farm. There are references to parochial 

xiii 



EMMA 

meetings at the village inn, which must have brought out 
the relative positions of Mr. Knightley, Mr. Weston, and 
Mr. Elton, in a way that would have tempted the pen of 
Anthony Trollope. But all these things Miss Austen passes 
by. Doubtless, if she could have been interrogated upon 
the subject she would have replied — much as she did to 
the equally impertinent suggestions of the egregious Mr. 
Clarke — that they were, if not necessarily beyond her hand, 
at all events beside her matter ; and that in any case they 
were by no means indispensable to the safe conduct of three 
or four couples towards that ultimate consummation which 
the high-flown Mrs. Elton describes as 'Hymen's saffron 
robe.' And whatever Miss Austen's answer might have 
been, she is justified by her results. The candid reader of 
Emma — unless, of course, he chance to be the 'severe, sour- 
complexioned man ' whom Izaak Walton disallows as a com- 
petent judge of literary merit — must admit that the narrative, 
criticise it as he may, carries him on, interested and ex- 
pectant, from the first page to the last. 

There is another noticeable, and probably hitherto un- 
noticed, difference between Miss Austen's work and the 
novel of to-day, and that is, her almost entire disregard of 
the servants' hall as a source for her humorous character. 
It is true that the names of Mr. Woodhouse's James, Mrs. 
Elton's Wright, Mr. Knightley's Larkins and Harry, reach 
us vaguely from the lower regions ; but the persons them- 
selves are never definitely presented. Yet, as Thackeray 
would certainly have hinted, James the coachman must have 
had his own private views as to the dangerous nature of the 
'corner into Vicarage Lane' ; and George Eliot would scarcely 
have omitted to report at least one of the consultations be- 
tween William Larkins and his master on the management 
of the Don well Abbey Estate, besides letting us know pretty 

xiv 



INTRODUCTION 

distinctly the opinion of the said William with respect to 
that master's marriage. Nor can we help believing that Miss 
Bates's Patty (if she had encountered her historian in Mrs. 
Gaskell) would also be found to have entertained from the 
first very sagacious and profound opinions as to Miss Jane 
Fairfax and the cause of her mysterious indisposition. The 
absence of such matters is to the full as remarkable as the 
sparing use, already referred to in a previous preface, of de- 
scriptive detail. Yet even in the present volume Miss Austen 
shows that she could, if she would, rival the best of the topo- 
graphers. Take, for example, the following vignette of the 
village High Street. ' Emma went to the door for amuse- 
ment Much could not be hoped from the traffic of 
even the busiest part of Highbury; — Mr. Perry walking 
hastily by ; Mr. William Cox letting himself in at the office 
door; Mr. Cole's carriage -horses returning from exercise; 
or a stray letter-boy on an obstinate mule, were the liveliest 
objects she could presume to expect; and when her eyes 
fell only on the butcher with his tray, a tidy old woman 
travelling homewards from shop with her full basket, two 
curs quarrelling over a dirty bone, and a string of dawdling 
children round the baker's little bow -window eyeing the 
gingerbread, she knew she had no reason to complain, and 
was amused enough : quite enough still to stand at the door.' 
That, we submit, is not only clearly seen, but touched in 
with the true economy of line. 



POSTSCRIPT 

In Mr. Clement Shorter's highly interesting Charlotte 
Bronte and her Circle is a hitherto unpublished letter from the 
author oi Jane Eyre^ which contains a passage relating to 

xy 



EMMA 

the author of Emma. Although unjust to Miss Austen, it 
is so characteristic of the writer that, with Mr. Shorter's 
permission, it is here reproduced : — 

*' I have likewise read one of Miss Austen's works — Emma — read 
it with interest and with just the degree of admiration which Miss 
Austen herself would have thought sensible and suitable. Anything 
like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heart-felt, is 
utterly out of place in commending these works : all such demonstration 
the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have 
calmly scorned as ouM and extravagant. She does her business of 
delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously 
well. There is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy, in the painting. 
She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing 
profound. The passions are perfectly unknown to her ; she rejects 
even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood. Even to 
the feelings she vouchsafes no more than an occasional graceful but 
distant recognition — too frequent converse with them would ruffle the 
smooth elegance of her progress. Her business is not half so much 
with the human heart as with the human eyes, mouth, hands, and feet. 
What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study ; 
but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes 
through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death 
— this Miss Austen ignores. She no more, with her mind's eye, be- 
holds the heart of her race than each man, with bodily vision, se^s the 
heart in his heaving breast. Jane Austen was a complete and most 
sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (^not senseless) 
woman. If this is heresy, I cannot help it." 



\ 

xvi 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Emma was not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey 

Frontispiece 
' Two umbrellas for us ' . . . . . 8 

With a slice of Mrs. Weston's wedding-cake . . .14 

Ready to jump up and see the progress . .38 

' Showing your picture to his mother and sisters ' . . 47 

Rode off in great spirits . . . . .58 

* Tosses them up to the ceiling ' . . . ,71 

* Flying Henry's kite for him ' .... 84 
She had never been able to get anything tolerable . . 93 
As they walked into Mrs. Weston's drawing-room . . 103 

* Is this fair, Mrs. Weston ? ' . . . .111 
' A pert young lawyer ' ..... 121 
*0h, here it is' . . . . . . 136 

* Miss Bates was very chatty and good-humoured' . .149 

* Who should come in but Elizabeth and her brother ! ' . 156 
In that very room she had been measured . .165 
He stopt to look in . . . . . -175 
Having his hair cut , . . . . .182 
Had secured her hand ..... 203 
Deeply occupied about her spectacles . . . .213 

' Oh, Mr. Knightley, one moment more' , . .218 

xvii 



EMMA 

' He has asked her, my dear ' 

Mrs. Elton was first seen at church . 

Some vulgar, dashing widow . 

' You have heard those charming lines of the poet ' 

* I am very sorry to hear, Miss Fairfax, of your being out this 

morning in the rain ' . 

' How my brother, Mr. Suckling, sometimes flies about 
' Well ! This is brilliant indeed ! ' . 
Among the bulky forms and stooping shoulders 
Harriet was soon assailed 
Mr. Perry passed by on horseback 
' Oh, now you are looking very sly ' . 
Able to take an interest in their employment . 
Seen the Crown chaise pass by 
Miss Bates came to the carriage door . 
He stopped to look the question 
Walking away from William Larkins , 

* Such a dreadful broiling morning ' . 
Emma hung about him affectionately . 
It passed to Mrs. Cole, Mrs. Perry, and Mrs. Elton 



PAGE 
228 

240 

246 

264 

288 
292 
300 
310 
320 
329 
346 

353 
387 
404 

413 
420 

423 



XVIU 



CHAPTER I 

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a com- 
fortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some 
of the best blessings of existence ; and had lived nearly 
twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or 
vex her. 

She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affec- 
tionate, indulgent father, and had, in consequence of her 
sister's marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early 
period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have 
more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses, and her 
place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, 
who had fallen little short of a mother in affection. 

Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse's 
family, less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both 
daughters, but particularly of Emma. Between them it was 
more the intimacy of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had 
ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the mildness 
of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint ; 
and the shadow of authority being now long passed away, they 
had been living together as friend and friend very mutually 
attached, and Emma doing just what she liked ; highly esteem- 
ing Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by her own. 

The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power 
of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to 
think a little too well of herself: these were the disadvantages 
which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, 
however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by 
any means rank as misfortunes with her. 

Sorrow came — a gentle sorrow — but not at all in the shape 
of any disagreeable consciousness. Miss Taylor married. It 
was Miss Taylor's loss which first brought grief. It was on 
B I E 



EMMA 

the wedding-day of this beloved friend that Emma first sat in 
mournful thought of any continuance. The wedding over, 
and the bride-people gone, her father and herself were left to 
dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long 
evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, 
as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she 
had lost. 

The event had every promise of happiness for her friend. 
Mr. Weston was a man of unexceptionable character, easy 
fortune, suitable age, and pleasant manners ; and there was 
some satisfaction in considering with what self-denying, gener- 
ous friendship she had always wished and promoted the 
match ; but it was a black morning's work for her. The want 
of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day. She 
recalled her past kindness — the kindness, the affection of 
sixteen years — how she had taught and how she had played 
with her from five years old — how she had devoted all her 
powers to attach and amuse her in health — and how nursed 
her through the various illnesses of childhood. A large debt 
of gratitude was owing here ; but the intercourse of the last 
seven years, the equal footing and perfect unreserve which 
had soon followed Isabella's marriage on their being left to 
each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection. She had 
been a friend and companion such as few possessed : intelli- 
gent, well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of 
the family, interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly 
interested in herself, in every pleasure, every scheme of hers, — 
one to whom she could speak every thought as it arose, and 
who had such an affection for her as could never find fault. 

How was she to bear the change ? It was true that her 
friend was going only half a mile from them ; but Emma was 
aware that great must be the difference between a Mrs. 
Weston, only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the 
house ; and with all her advantages, natural and domestic, 
she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual 
solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he was no com- 
panion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, 
rational or playful. 

The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. 
Woodhouse had not married early) was much increased by 
his constitution and habits ; for having been a valetudinarian 

2 



EMMA 

all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much 
older man in ways than in years ; and though everywhere 
beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable 
temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any 
time. 

Her sister, though comparatively but little removed by 
matrimony, being settled in London, only sixteen miles off, 
was much beyond her daily reach ; and many a long October 
and November evening must be struggled through at Hartfield, 
before Christmas brought the next visit from Isabella and her 
husband, and their little children, to fill the house, and give 
her pleasant society again. 

Highbury, the large and populous village, almost amount- 
ing to a town, to which Hartfield, in spite of its separate lawn, 
and shrubberies, and name, did really belong, afforded her no 
equals. The Woodhouses were first in consequence there. 
All looked up to them. She had many acquaintances in the 
place, for her father was universally civil, but not one among 
them who could be accepted in lieu of Miss Taylor for even 
half a day. It was a melancholy change ; and Emma could 
not but sigh over it, and wish for impossible things, till her 
father awoke, and made it necessary to be cheerful. His 
spirits required support. He was a nervous man, easily de- 
pressed ; fond of everybody that he was used to, and hating 
to part with them ; hating change of every kind. Matrimony, 
as the origin of change, was always disagreeable ; and he was 
by no means yet reconciled to his own daughter's marrying, 
nor could ever speak of her but with compassion, though it 
had been entirely a match of affection, when he was now 
obliged to part with Miss Taylor too ; and from his habits 
of gentle selfishness, and of being never able to suppose that 
other people could feel differently from himself, he was very 
much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sad a thing 
for herself as for them, and would have been a great deal 
happier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield. 
Emma smiled and chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep 
him from such thoughts ; but when tea came, it was impossible 
for him not to say exactly as he had said at dinner. 

' Poor Miss Taylor ! — I wish she were here again. What 
a pity it is that Mr. Weston ever thought of her ! ' 

' I cannot agree with you, papa ; you know I cannot. Mr. 

3 



EMMA 

Weston is such a good-humoured, pleasant, excellent man, 
that he thoroughly deserves a good wife ; and you would not 
have had Miss Taylor live with us for ever, and bear all my 
odd humours, when she might have a house of her own ? ' 

' A house of her own ! — but where is the advantage of a 
house of her own ? This is three times as large ; — and you 
have never any odd humours, my dear.' 

' How often we shall be going to see them, and they coming 
to see us ! — We shall be always meeting ! We must begin ; 
we must go and pay our wedding-visit very soon.' 

' My dear, how am I to get so far } Randalls is such a 
distance. I could not walk half so far.' 

' No, papa ; nobody thought of your walking. We must 
go in the carriage, to be sure.' 

' The carriage ! But James will not like to put the horses 
to for such a little way ; — and where are the poor horses to be 
while we are paying our visit ? ' 

' They are to be put into Mr. Weston's stable, papa. You 
know we have settled all that already. We talked it all over 
with Mr. Weston last night. And as for James, you may be 
very sure he will always like going to Randalls, because of his 
daughter's being housemaid there. I only doubt whether he 
will ever take us anywhere else. That was your doing, papa. 
You got Hannah that good place. Nobody thought of Hannah 
till you mentioned her — James is so obliged to you ! ' 

' I am very glad I did think of her. It was very lucky, 
for I would not have had poor James think himself slighted 
upon any account ; and I am sure she will make a very good 
servant ; she is a civil, pretty spoken girl ; I have a great 
opinion of her. Whenever I see her, she always courtesies 
and asks me how I do, in a very pretty manner ; and when 
you have had her here to do needlework, I observe she always 
turns the lock of the door the right way and never bangs it. 
I am sure she will be an excellent servant ; and it will be a 
great comfort to poor Miss Taylor to have somebody about 
her that she is used to see. Whenever James goes over to 
see his daughter, you know, she will be hearing of us. He 
will be able to tell her how we all are.' 

Emma spared no exertions to maintain this happier flow of 
ideas, and hoped, by the help of backgammon, to get her 
father tolerably through the evening, and be attacked by no 

4 



EMMA 

regrets but her own. The backgammon-table was placed ; 
but a visitor immediately afterwards walked in and made it 
unnecessary. 

Mr. Knightley, a sensible man about seven or eight and 
thirty, was not only a very old and intimate friend of the 
family, but particularly connected with it as the elder brother 
of Isabella's husband. He lived about a mile from Highbury, 
was a frequent visitor, and always welcome, and at this time 
more welcome than usual, as coming directly from their mutual 
connections in London. He had returned to a late dinner 
after some days' absence, and now walked up to Hartfield to 
say that all were well in Brunswick Square. It was a happy 
circumstance, and animated Mr. Woodhouse for some time. 
Mr. Knightley had a cheerful manner, which always did him 
good; and his many inquiries after 'poor Isabella' and her 
children were answered most satisfactorily. When this was 
over, Mr. Woodhouse gratefully observed — 

' It is very kind of you, Mr. Knightley, to come out at this 
late hour to call upon us. I am afraid you must have had a 
shocking walk.' 

* Not at all, sir. It is a beautiful moonlight night ; and so 
mild that I must draw back from your great fire.' 

' But you must have found it very damp and dirty. I wish 
you may not catch cold.' 

' Dirty, sir ! Look at my shoes. Not a speck on them.' 

' Well ! that is quite surprising, for we have had a vast deal 
of rain here. It rained dreadfully hard for half an hour, while 
we were at breakfast. I wanted them to put off the wedding.' 

' By the bye, I have not wished you joy. Being pretty well 
aware of what sort of joy you must both be feeling, I have 
been in no hurry with my congratulations ; but I hope it all 
went off tolerably well. How did you all behave? Who 
cried most ? ' 

' Ah ! poor Miss Taylor ! 'tis a sad business.' 

' Poor Mr. and Miss Woodhouse, if you please ; but I 
cannot possibly say "poor Miss Taylor." I have a great 
regard for you and Emma ; but when it comes to the question 
of dependence or independence ! At any rate, it must be 
better to have only one to please than two.' 

' Especially when one of those two is such a fanciful, trouble- 
some creature ! ' said Emma playfully. * That is what you 

5 



EMMA 

have in your head, I know — and what you would certainly say 
if my father were not by.' 

' I believe it is very true, my dear, indeed,' said Mr. Wood- 
house with a sigh. * I am afraid I am sometimes very fanciful 
and troublesome.' 

' My dearest papa ! You do not think I could mean you^ 
or suppose Mr. Knightley to mean j^z^. What a horrible idea! 
Oh no ! I meant only myself. Mr. Knightley loves to find 
fault with me, you know — in a joke — it is all a joke. We 
always say what we like to one another.' 

Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who 
could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who 
ever told her of them ; and though this was not particularly 
agreeable to Emma herself, she knew it would be so much less 
so to her father, that she would not have him really suspect such 
a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by everybody. 

' Emma knows I never flatter her,' said Mr. Knightley ; 
' but I meant no reflection on anybody. Miss Taylor has been 
used to have two persons to please ; she will now have but 
one. The chances are that she must be a gainer.' 

' Well,' said Emma, willing to let it pass, ' you want to hear 
about the wedding ; and I shall be happy to tell you, for we 
all behaved charmingly. Everybody was punctual, everybody 
in their best looks : not a tear, and hardly a long face to be 
seen. Oh no ; we all felt that we were going to be only half 
a mile apart, and were sure of meeting every day.' 

' Dear Emma bears everything so well,' said her father. 
' But, Mr. Knightley, she is really very sorry to lose poor 
Miss Taylor, and I am sure she will miss her more than she 
thinks for.' 

Emma turned away her head, divided between tears and 
smiles. 

* It is impossible that Emma should not miss such a com- 
panion,' said Mr. Knightley. ' We should not like her so well 
as we do, sir, if we could suppose it ; but she knows how much 
the marriage is to Miss Taylor's advantage ; she knows how 
very acceptable it must be at Miss Taylor's time of life to be 
settled in a home of her own, and how important to her to be 
secure of a comfortable provision, and therefore cannot allow 
herself to feel so much pain as pleasure. Every friend of Miss 
Taylor must be glad to have her so happily married.' 

6 



EMMA 

'And you have forgotten one matter of joy to me,' said 
Emma, ' and a very considerable one — that I made the match 
myself. I made the match, you know, four years ago ; and to 
have it take place, and be proved in the right, when so many 
people said Mr. Weston would never marry again, may com- 
fort me for anything.' 

Mr. Knightley shook his head at her. Her father fondly 
replied, * Ah ! my dear, I wish you would not make matches 
and foretell things, for whatever you say always comes to pass. 
Pray do not make any more matches.' 

' I promise you to make none for myself, papa ; but I must, 
indeed, for other people. It is the greatest amusement in the 
world ! And after such success, you know ! Everybody said 
that Mr. Weston would never marry again. Oh dear no ! 
Mr. Weston who had been a widower so long, and who seemed 
so perfectly comfortable without a wife, so constantly occupied 
either in his business in town or among his friends here, 
always acceptable wherever he went, always cheerful — Mr. 
Weston need not spend a single evening in the year alone if 
he did not like it. Oh no ! Mr. Weston certainly would 
never marry again. Some people even talked of a promise to 
his wife on her deathbed, and others of the son and the uncle 
not letting him. All manner of solemn nonsense was talked 
on the subject, but I believed none of it. Ever since the day 
(about four years ago) that Miss Taylor and I met with him in 
Broadway Lane, when, because it began to mizzle, he darted 
away with so much gallantry and borrowed two umbrellas for 
us from Farmer Mitchell's, I made up my mind on the subject. 
I planned the match from that hour ; and when such success 
has blessed me in this instance, dear papa, you cannot think 
that I shall leave off match-making.' 

* I do not understand what you mean by " success," ' said 
Mr. Knightley. ' Success supposes endeavour. Your time 
has been properly and delicately spent, if you have been en- 
deavouring for the last four years to bring about this marriage. 
A worthy employment for a young lady's mind ! but if, which 
I rather imagine, your making the match, as you call it, means 
only your planning it, your saying to yourself one idle day, " I 
think it would be a very good thing for Miss Taylor if Mr. 
Weston were to marry her," and saying it again to yourself 
every now and then afterwards, — why do you talk of success ? 




Two umbrellas /or tcs. 



EMMA 

where is your merit ? What are you proud of? You made a 
lucky guess ; and that is all that can be said.' 

' And have you never known the pleasure and triumph of a 
lucky guess ? I pity you. I thought you cleverer ; for depend 
upon it, a lucky guess is never merely luck. There is always 
some talent in it. And as to my poor word " success," which 
you quarrel with, I do not know that I am so entirely without 
any claim to it. You have drawn two pretty pictures ; but I 
think there may be a third, — a something between the do- 
nothing and the do-all. If I had not promoted Mr. Weston's 
visits here, and given many little encouragements, and smoothed 
many little matters, it might not have come to anything after 
all. I think you must know Hartfield enough to comprehend 
that.' 

'A straightfonvard, open-hearted man, like Weston, and a 
rational unaffected woman, like Miss Taylor, may be safely left 
to manage their own concerns. You are more likely to have 
done harm to yourself than good to them by interference.' 

' Emma never thinks of herself, if she can do good to 
others,' rejoined Mr. Woodhouse, understanding but in part. 
' But, my dear, pray do not make any more matches ; they are 
silly things, and break up one's family circle grievously.' 

* Only one more, papa ; only for Mr. Elton. Poor Mr. 
Elton ! You like Mr. Elton, papa ; I must look about for a 
wife for him. There is nobody in Highbury who deserves 
him, — and he has been here a whole year, and has fitted up 
his house so comfortably that it would be a shame to have 
him single any longer ; and I thought when he was joining 
their hands to-day, he looked so very much as if he would like 
to have the same kind office done for him ! I think very well 
of Mr, Elton, and this is the only way I have of doing him a 
service.' 

' Mr. Elton is a very pretty young man, to be sure, and a 
very good young man, and I have a great regard for him. 
But if you want to show him any attention, my dear, ask him 
to come and dine with us some day. That will be a much 
better thing. I daresay Mr. Knightley will be so kind as to 
meet him.' 

' With a great deal of pleasure, sir, at any time,' said Mr. 
Knightley, laughing ; * and I agree with you entirely, that it 
will be a much better thing. Invite him to dinner, Emma, 

9 



EMMA 

and help him to the best of the fish and the chicken, but leave 
him to choose his own wife. Depend upon it, a man of six or 
seven and twenty can take care of himself.' 



CHAPTER II 

Mr. Weston was a native of Highbury, and born of a 
respectable family, which for the last two or three generations 
had been rising into gentility and property. He had received 
a good education, but on succeeding early in life to a small 
independence, had become indisposed for any of the more 
homely pursuits in which his brothers were engaged, and had 
satisfied an active, cheerful mind and social temper by enter- 
ing into the militia of his county, then embodied. 

Captain Weston was a general favourite ; and when the 
chances of his military life had introduced him to Miss 
Churchill, of a great Yorkshire family, and Miss Churchill fell 
in love with him, nobody was surprised except her brother 
and his wife, who had never seen him, and who were full of 
pride and importance, which the connection would offend. 

Miss Churchill, however, being of age, and with the full 
command of her fortune — though her fortune bore no propor- 
tion to the family estate — was not to be dissuaded from the 
marriage, and it took place, to the infinite mortification of Mr. 
and Mrs. Churchill, who threw her off with due decorum. It 
was an unsuitable connection, and did not produce much 
happiness. Mrs. Weston ought to have found more in it, for 
she had a husband whose warm heart and sweet temper made 
him think everything due to her in return for the great good- 
ness of being in love with him ; but though she had one sort 
of spirit, she had not the best. She had resolution enough to 
pursue her own will in spite of her brother, but not enough to 
refrain from unreasonable regrets at that brother's unreasonable 
anger, nor from missing the luxuries of her former home. 
They lived beyond their income, but still it \vas nothing in 
comparison of Enscombe ; she did not cease to love her 
husband ; but she wanted at once to be the wife of Captain 
Weston, and Miss Churchill of Enscombe. 

lO 



EMMA 

Captain Weston, who had been considered, especially by 
the Churchills, as making such an amazing match, was proved 
to have much the worst of the bargain ; for when his wife died, 
after a three years' marriage, he was rather a poorer man than 
at first, and with a child to maintain. From the expense of 
the child, however, he was soon relieved. The boy had, with 
the additional softening claim of a lingering illness of his 
mother's, been the means of a sort of reconciliation ; and Mr. 
and Mrs. Churchill, having no children of their own, nor any 
other young creature of equal kindred to care for, offered to 
take the whole charge of the little Frank soon after her decease. 
Some scruples and some reluctance the widower-father may be 
supposed to have felt ; but as they were overcome by other 
considerations, the child was given up to the care and the 
wealth of the Churchills, and he had only his own comfort to 
seek, and his own situation to improve as he could. 

A complete change of life became desirable. He quitted 
the militia and engaged in trade, having brothers already 
established in a good way in London, which afforded him a 
favourable opening. It was a concern which brought just 
employment enough. He had still a small house in Highbury, 
where most of his leisure days were spent ; and between useful 
occupation and the pleasures of society, the next eighteen or 
twenty years of his life passed cheerfully away. He had, by 
that time, realised an easy competence — enough to secure the 
purchase of a little estate adjoining Highbury, which he had 
always longed for — enough to marry a woman as portionless 
even as Miss Taylor, and to live according to the wishes of 
his own friendly and social disposition. 

It was now some time since Miss Taylor had begun to 
influence his schemes ; but as it was not the tyrannic influence 
of youth on youth, it had not shaken his determination of never 
settling till he could purchase Randalls, and the sale of 
Randalls was long looked forward to ; but he had gone 
steadily on, with these objects in view, till they were accom- 
plished. He had made his fortune, bought his house, and 
obtained his wife, and was beginning a new period of existence 
with every probability of greater happiness than in any yet 
passed through. He had never been an unhappy man ; his 
own temper had secured him from that, even in his first 
marriage ; but his second must show him how delightful a 

Ul>ifV£KSlTY Of CALIFORNIA UBRATTif 



EMMA 

well-judging and truly amiable woman could be, and must give 
him the pleasantest proof of its being a great deal better to 
choose than to be chosen, to excite gratitude than to feel it. 

He had only himself to please in his choice : his fortune 
was his own ; for as to Frank, it was more than being tacitly 
brought up as his uncle's heir ; it had become so avowed an 
adoption as to have him assume the name of Churchill on 
coming of age. It was most unlikely, therefore, that he should 
ever want his father's assistance. His father had no appre- 
hension of it. The aunt was a capricious woman, and governed 
her husband entirely ; but it was not in Mr. Weston's nature 
to imagine that any caprice could be strong enough to affect 
one so dear, and, as he believed, so deservedly dear. He saw 
his son every year in London, and was proud of him ; and his 
fond report of him as a very fine young man had made 
Highbury feel a sort of pride in him too. He was looked on 
as sufficiently belonging to the place to make his merits and 
prospects a kind of common concern. 

Mr. Frank Churchill was one of the boasts of Highbury, 
and a lively curiosity to see him prevailed, though the 
compliment was so little returned that he had never been 
there in his life. His coming to visit his father had been 
often talked of but never achieved. 

Now, upon his father's marriage, it was very generally 
proposed, as a most proper attention, that the visit should 
take place. There was not a dissentient voice on the subject, 
either when Mrs. Perry drank tea with Mrs. and Miss Bates, 
or when Mrs. and Miss Bates returned the visit. Now was 
the time for Mr. Frank Churchill to come among them ; and 
the hope strengthened when it was understood that he had 
written to his new mother on the occasion. For a few days 
every morning visit in Highbury included some mention of 
the handsome letter Mrs. Weston had received. * I suppose 
you have heard of the handsome letter Mr. Frank Churchill 
had written to Mrs. Weston ? I understand it was a very 
handsome letter, indeed. Mr. Woodhouse told me of it. Mr. 
Woodhouse saw the letter, and he says he never saw such a 
handsome letter in his life.' 

It was, indeed, a highly-prized letter. Mrs. Weston had, 
of course, formed a very favourable idea of the young man ; 
and such a pleasing attention was an irresistible proof of his 

12 



EMMA 

great good sense, and a most welcome addition to every source 
and every expression of congratulation which her marriage had 
already secured. She felt herself a most fortunate woman ; 
and she had lived long enough to know how fortunate she 
might well be thought, where the only regret was for a partial 
separation from friends, whose friendship for her had never 
cooled, and who could ill bear to part with her. 

She knew that at times she must be missed, and could not 
think, without pain, of Emma's losing a single pleasure, or 
suffering an hour's ennui, from the want of her companionable- 
ness ; but dear Emma was of no feeble character ; she was 
more equal to her situation than most girls would have been, 
and had sense and energy and spirits that might be hoped 
would bear her well and happily through its little difficulties 
and privations. And then there was such comfort in the very 
easy distance of Randalls from Hartfield, so convenient for 
even soHtary female walking, and in Mr. Weston's disposition 
and circumstances, which would make the approaching season 
no hindrance to their spending half the evenings in the week 
together. 

Her situation was altogether the subject of hours of gratitude 
to Mrs. Weston, and of moments only of regret ; and her satis- 
faction — her more than satisfaction — her cheerful enjoyment 
was so just and so apparent, that Emma, well as she knew her 
father, was sometimes taken by surprise at his being still able 
to pity ' poor Miss Taylor,' when they left her at Randalls in 
the centre of every domestic comfort, or saw her go away in 
the evening attended by her pleasant husband to a carriage of 
her own. But never did she go without Mr. Woodhouse's 
giving a gentle sigh, and saying — 

'Ah, poor Miss Taylor ! She would be very glad to stay.' 

There was no recovering Miss Taylor — nor much likeli- 
hood of ceasing to pity her ; but a few weeks brought some 
alleviation to Mr. Woodhouse. The compliments of his neigh- 
bours were over ; he was no longer teased by being wished joy 
of so sorrowful an event ; and the wedding-cake, which had 
been a great distress to him, was all ate up. His own stomach 
could bear nothing rich, and he could never believe other 
people to be different from himself. What was unwholesome 
to him, he regarded as unfit for anybody ; and he had, there- 
fore, earnestly tried to dissuade them from having any wedding- 

13 




With a slice ofMrs. IVeston's wedding-cake. 



EMMA 

cake at all ; and when that proved vain, as earnestly tried to 
prevent anybody's eating it. He had been at the pains of 
consulting Mr. Perry, the apothecary, on the subject. Mr. 
Perry was an intelligent, gentlemanlike man, whose frequent 
visits were one of the comforts of Mr. Woodhouse's life ; and, 
upon being applied to, he could not but acknowledge (though 
it seemed rather against the bias of inclination) that wedding- 
cake might certainly disagree with many — perhaps with most 
people, unless taken moderately. With such an opinion, in 
confirmation of his own, Mr. Woodhouse hoped to influence 
every visitor of the new-married pair ; but still the cake was 
eaten ; and there was no rest for his benevolent nerves till it 
was all gone. 

There was a strange rumour in Highbury of all the little 
Perr>'s being seen with a slice of Mrs. Weston's wedding-cake 
in their hands ; but Mr. Woodhouse would never believe it. 



CHAPTER III 

Mr. Woodhouse was fond of society in his own way. He 
liked very much to have his friends come and see him ; and 
from various united causes, from his long residence at Hart- 
field, and his good nature, from his fortune, his house, and his 
daughter, he could command the visits of his own little circle, 
in a great measure, as he liked. He had not much intercourse 
with any families beyond that circle : his horror of late hours 
and large dinner-parties made him unfit for any acquaintance 
but such as would visit him on his own terms. Fortunately 
for him, Highbury, including Randalls in the same parish, 
and Donwell Abbey in the parish adjoining, the seat of 
Mr. Knightley, comprehended many such. Not unfrequently, 
through Emma's persuasion, he had some of the chosen and 
the best to dine with him ; but evening parties were what he 
preferred ; and, unless he fancied himself at any time unequal 
to company, there was scarcely an evening in the week in 
which Emma could not make up a card-table for him. 

Real, long standing regard brought the Westons and Mr. 
Knightley ; and by Mr. Elton, a young man living alone 

15 



EMMA 

without liking it, the privilege of exchanging any vacant 
evening of his own blank solitude for the elegancies and 
society of Mr. Woodhouse's drawing-room, and the smiles of 
his lovely daughter, was in no danger of being thrown away. 

After these came a second set : among the most comeat- 
able of whom were Mrs. and Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard, 
three ladies almost always at the service of an invitation from 
Hartfield, and who were fetched and carried home so often 
that Mr. Woodhouse thought it no hardship for either James 
or the horses. Had it taken place only once a year, it would 
have been a grievance. 

Mrs. Bates, the widow of a former vicar of Highbury, was 
a very old lady, almost past everything but tea and quadrille. 
She lived with her single daughter in a very small way, and 
was considered with all the regard and respect which a harm- 
less old lady, under such untoward circumstances, can excite. 
Her daughter enjoyed a most uncommon degree of popularity 
for a woman neither young, handsome, rich nor married. Miss 
Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for 
having much of the public favour ; and she had no intellectual 
superiority to make atonement to herself, or frighten those who 
might hate her into outward respect. She had never boasted 
either beauty or cleverness. Her youth had passed without 
distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a 
failing mother, and the endeavour to make a small income go 
as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a 
woman whom no one named without goodwill. It was her 
own universal goodwill and contented temper which worked 
such wonders. She loved everybody, was interested in every- 
body's happiness, quick-sighted to everybody's merits ; thought 
herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings 
in such an excellent mother, and so many good neighbours and 
friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity 
and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful 
spirit, were a recommendation to everybody, and a mine of 
felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, 
which exactly suited Mr. Woodhoase, full of trivial communica- 
tions and harmless gossip. 

Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a school, — not of a 
seminary, or an establishment, or anything which professed, in 
long sentences of refined nonsense, to combine liberal acquire- 

i6 



EMMA 

ments with elegant morality, upon new principles and new 
systems, — and where young ladies for enormous pay might be 
screwed out of health and into vanity, — but a real, honest, old- 
fashioned boarding-school, where a reasonable quantity of 
accomplishments were sold at a reasonable price, and where 
girls might be sent to be out of the way, and scramble them- 
selves into a little education, without any danger of coming 
back prodigies. Mrs. Goddard's school was in high repute, 
and very deservedly ; for Highbury was reckoned a particularly 
healthy spot : she had an ample house and garden, gave the 
children plenty of wholesome food, let them run about a great 
deal in the summer, and in winter dressed their chilblains with 
her own hands. It was no wonder that a train of twenty young 
couple now walked after her to church. She was a plain, 
motherly kind of woman, who had worked hard in her youth, 
and now thought herself entitled to the occasional holiday of a 
tea-visit ; and having formerly owed much to Mr. Woodhouse's 
kindness, felt his particular claim on her to leave her neat 
parlour, hung round with fancy work, whenever she could, and 
win or lose a few sixpences by his fireside. 

These were the ladies whom Emma found herself very 
frequently able to collect ; and happy was she, for her father's 
sake, in the power ; though, as far as she was herself concerned, 
it was no remedy for the absence of Mrs. Weston. She was 
delighted to see her father look comfortable, and very much 
pleased with herself for contriving things so well ; but the quiet 
prosings of three such women made her feel that every evening 
so spent was indeed one of the long evenings she had fearfully 
anticipated. 

As she sat one morning, looking forward to exactly such a 
close of the present day, a note was brought from Mrs. Goddard, 
requesting, in most respectful terms, to be allowed to bring 
Miss Smith with her : a most welcome request ; for Miss Smith 
was a girl of seventeen whom Emma knew very well by sight, 
and had long felt an interest in, on account of her beauty. A 
very gracious invitation was returned, and the evening no 
longer dreaded by the fair mistress of the mansion. 

Harriet Smith was the natural daughter of somebody. 
Somebody had placed her, several years back, at Mrs. God- 
dard's school, and somebody had lately raised her from the 
condition of scholar to that of parlour boarder. This was all 
c 17 



EMMA 

that was generally known of her history. She had no visible 
friends but what had been acquired at Highbury, and was now 
just returned from a long visit in the country to some young 
ladies who had been at school there with her. 

She was a very pretty girl, and her beauty happened to be 
of a sort which Emma particularly admired. She was short, 
plump, and fair, with a fine bloom, blue eyes, light hair, regular 
features, and a look of great sweetness ; and, before the end of 
the evening, Emma was as much pleased with her manners as 
her person, and quite determined to continue the acquaintance. 

She was not struck by anything remarkably clever in Miss 
Smith's conversation, but she found her altogether very en- 
gaging, — not inconveniently shy, not unwilling to talk, — and 
yet so far from pushing, showing so proper and becoming a 
deference, seeming so pleasantly grateful for being admitted 
to Hartfield, and so artlessly impressed by the appearance of 
everything in so superior a style to what she had been used 
to, that she must have good sense, and deserve encouragement. 
Encouragement should be given. Those soft blue eyes, and 
all those natural graces, should not be wasted on the inferior 
society of Highbury, and its connections. The acquaintance 
she had already formed were unworthy of her. The friends 
from whom she had just parted, though very good sort of 
people, must be doing her harm. They were a family of the 
name of Martin, whom Emma well knew by character, as 
renting a large farm of Mr. Knightley, and residing in the 
parish of Donwell, — very creditably, she believed : she knew 
Mr. Knightley thought highly of them ; but they must be 
coarse and unpolished, and very unfit to be the intimates of a 
girl who wanted only a little more knowledge and elegance to 
be quite perfect. She would notice her ; she would improve 
her ; she would detach her from her bad acquaintance, and 
introduce her into good society ; she would form her opinions 
and her manners. It would be an interesting and certainly a 
very kind undertaking ; highly becoming her own situation in 
life, her leisure, and powers. 

She was so busy in admiring those soft blue eyes, in talking 
and listening, and forming all these schemes in the in-betweens, 
that the evening flew away at a very unusual rate ; and the 
supper-table, which always closed such parties, and for which 
she had been used to sit and watch the due time, was all set 

i8 



EMMA 

out and ready, and moved forwards to the fire, before she was 
aware. With an alacrity beyond the common impulse of a 
spirit which yet was never indifferent to the credit of doing 
everything well and attentively, with the real goodwill of a 
mind dehghted with its own ideas, did she then do all the 
honours of the meal, and help and recommend the minced 
chicken and scalloped oysters, with an urgency which she knew 
would be acceptable to the early hours and civil scruples of 
their guests. 

Upon such occasions poor Mr. Woodhouse's feelings were 
in sad warfare. He loved to have the cloth laid, because it 
had been the fashion of his youth : but his conviction of 
suppers being very unwholesome, made him rather sorry to 
see anything put on it ; and while his hospitality would have 
welcomed his visitors to everything, his care for their health 
made him grieve that they would eat. 

Such another small basin of thin gruel as his own was all 
that he could, with thorough self-approbation, recommend ; 
though he might constrain himself, while the ladies were 
comfortably clearing the nicer things, to say — 

' Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these 
eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle 
understands boiling an egg better than anybody. I would not 
recommend an egg boiled by anybody else, — but you need 
not be afraid, they are very small, you see, — one of our small 
eggs will not hurt you. Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a 
/z'Ule bit of tart — a very little bit. Ours are all apple tarts. 
You need not be afraid of unwholesome preserves here. I do 
not advise the custard. Mrs. Goddard, what say you to Aa// 
a glass of wine ? A sma// half glass, put into a tumbler of 
water ? I do not think it could disagree with you.' 

Emma allowed her father to talk — but supplied her visitors 
in a much more satisfactory style ; and on the present evening 
had particular pleasure in sending them away happy. The 
happiness of Miss Smith was quite equal to her intentions. 
Miss Woodhouse was so great a personage in Highbury that 
the prospect of the introduction had given as much panic as 
pleasure ; but the humble, grateful little girl went off with 
highly gratified feelings, delighted with the affability with 
which Miss Woodhouse had treated her all the evening, and 
actually shaken hands with her at last. 

19 



EMMA 



CHAPTER IV 



Harriet Smith's intimacy at Hartfield was soon a settled 
thing. Quick and decided in her ways, Emma lost no time 
in inviting, encouraging, and telling her to come very often ; 
and as their acquaintance increased, so did their satisfaction 
in each other. As a walking companion, Emma had very 
early foreseen how useful she might find her. In that respect 
Mrs. Weston's loss had been important. Her father never 
went beyond the shrubbery, where two divisions of the ground 
sufficed him for his long walk, or his short, as the year varied ; 
and since Mrs. Weston's marriage her exercise had been too 
much confined. She had ventured once alone to Randalls, 
but it was not pleasant ; and a Harriet Smith, therefore, one 
whom she could summon at any time to a walk, would be a 
valuable addition to her privileges. But in every respect, as 
she saw more of her, she approved her, and was confirmed in 
all her kind designs. 

Harriet certainly was not clever, but she had a sweet, docile, 
grateful disposition ; was totally free from conceit, and only 
desiring to be guided by any one she looked up to. Her early 
attachment to herself was very amiable ; and her inclination 
for good company, and power of appreciating what was elegant 
and clever, showed that there was no want of taste, though 
strength of understanding must not be expected. Altogether 
she was quite convinced of Harriet Smith's being exactly the 
young friend she wanted, — exactly the something which her 
home required. Such a friend as Mrs. Weston was out of the 
question. Two such could never be granted. Two such she 
did not want. It was quite a different sort of thing, — a 
sentiment distinct and independent. Mrs. Weston was the 
object of a regard which had its basis in gratitude and esteem. 
Harriet would be loved as one to whom she could be useful. 
For Mrs. Weston there was nothing to be done ; for Harriet 
everything. 

Her first attempts at usefulness were in an endeavour to 
find out who were the parents ; but Harriet could not tell. 

20 



EMMA 

She was ready to tell everything in her power, but on this 
subject questions were vain. Emma was obliged to fancy 
what she liked ; but she could never believe that in the same 
situation she should not have discovered the truth. Harriet 
had no penetration. She had been satisfied to hear and 
believe just what Mrs. Goddard chose to tell her, and looked 
no further. 

Mrs. Goddard, and the teachers, and the girls, and the 
affairs of the school in general, formed naturally a great part 
of her conversation, — and but for her acquaintance with the 
Martins of Abbey-Mill Farm, it must have been the whole. 
But the Martins occupied her thoughts a good deal ; she had 
spent two very happy months with them, and now loved to 
talk of the pleasures of her visit, and describe the many 
comforts and wonders of the place. Emma encouraged her 
talkativeness, — amused by such a picture of another set of 
beings, and enjoying the youthful simplicity which could speak 
with so much exultation of Mrs. Martin's having ' two parlours, 
two very good parlours, indeed : one of them quite as large as 
Mrs. Goddard's drawing-room ; and of her having an upper 
maid who had lived five-and-twenty years with her ; and of 
their having eight cows, two of them Alderneys, and one a 
little Welsh cow, a very pretty little Welsh cow, indeed ; and 
of Mrs. Martin's saying, as she was so fond of it, it should be 
called her cow ; and of their having a very handsome summer- 
house in their garden, where some day next year they were all 
to drink tea, — a very handsome summer-house, large enough 
to hold a dozen people.' 

For some time she was amused, without thinking beyond 
the immediate cause ; but as she came to understand the 
family better, other feelings arose. She had taken up a wrong 
idea, fancying it was a mother and daughter, a son and son's 
wife, who all lived together ; — but when it appeared that the 
Mr. Martin, who bore a part in the narrative, and was always 
mentioned with approbation for his great good-nature in doing 
something or other, was a single man ; that there was no 
young Mrs. Martin, no wife in the case ; — she did suspect 
danger to her poor little friend from all this hospitality and 
kindness, — and that if she were not taken care of, she might 
be required to sink herself for ever. 

With this inspiriting notion, her questions increased in number 

21 



EMMA 

and meaning ; and she particularly led Harriet to talk more of 
Mr. Martin — and there was evidently no dislike to it. Harriet 
was very ready to speak of the share he had had in their 
moonlight walks and merry evening games ; and dwelt a good 
deal upon his being so very good-humoured and obliging. 
' He had gone three miles round one day, in order to bring 
her some walnuts, because she had said how fond she was of 
them, — and in everything else he was so very obliging. He 
had his shepherd's son into the parlour one night on purpose 
to sing to her. She was very fond of singing. He could sing 
a little himself. She believed he was very clever, and under- 
stood everything. He had a very fine flock ; and, while she 
was with them, he had been bid more for his wool than any- 
body in the country. She believed everybody spoke well of 
him. His mother and sisters were very fond of him. Mrs. 
Martin had told her one day (and there was a blush as she 
said it) that it was impossible for anybody to be a better 
son ; and therefore she was sure whenever he married he would 
make a good husband. Not that she wanted him to marry. 
She was in no hurry at all' 

' Well done, Mrs. Martin ! ' thought Emma. ' You know 
what you are about.' 

' And when she had come away, Mrs. Martin was so very 
kind as to send Mrs. Goddard a beautiful goose : the finest 
goose Mrs. Goddard had ever seen. Mrs. Goddard had 
dressed it on a Sunday, and asked all the three teachers. Miss 
Nash, and Miss Prince, and Miss Richardson, to sup with her.' 

' Mr. Martin, I suppose, is not a man of information beyond 
the hne of his own business. He does not read ? ' 

'• Oh yes ! — that is, no — I do not know — but I believe he 
has read a good deal — but not what you would think anything 
of He reads the Agricultural Reports^ and some other books 
that lie in one of the window seats — but he reads all therii to 
himself. But sometimes of an evening, before we went to 
cards, he would read something aloud out of the Elegant 
Extracts^ very entertaining. And I know he has read the 
Vicar of Wakefield. He never read the Romance of the Forest^ 
nor the Children of the Abbey. He had never heard of such 
books before I mentioned them, but he is determined to get 
them now as soon as ever he can.' 

The next question was — 

22 



EMMA 

' What sort of looking man is Mr. Martin ? ' 
' Oh ! not handsome — not at all handsome. I thought him 
very plain at first, but I do not think him so plain now. One 
does not, you know, after a time. But did you never see him ? 
He is in Highbury every now and then, and he is sure to ride 
through every week in his way to Kingston, He has passed 
you very often.' 

' That may be, and I may have seen him fifty times, but 
without having any idea of his name. A young farmer, 
whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of 
person to raise my curiosity. The yeomanry are precisely the 
order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing to do. 
A degree or two lower, and a creditable appearance might 
interest me ; I might hope to be useful to their families in some 
way or other. But a farmer can need none of my help, and is 
therefore, in one sense, as much above my notice as in every 
other he is below it.' 

* To be sure. Oh yes, it is not likely you should ever have 
observed him ; but he knows you very well, indeed — I mean 
by sight.' 

* I have no doubt of his being a very respectable young 
man. I know, indeed, that he is so ; and, as such, wish him 
well. What do you imagine his age to be ? ' 

* He was four-and-twenty the 8th of last June, and my 
birthday is the 23rd : just a fortnight and a day's difference; 
which is very odd.' 

* Only four-and-twenty. That is too young to settle. His 
mother is perfectly right not to be in a hurry. They seem 
very comfortable as they are, and if she were to take any pains 
to marry him, she would probably repent it. Six years hence, 
if he could meet with a good sort of young woman in the 
same rank as his own, with a little money, it might be very 
desirable.' 

' Six years hence ! dear Miss Woodhouse, he would be 
thirty years old.' 

'Well, and that is as early as most men can afford to 
marry, who are not bom to an independence. Mr. Martin, 
I imagine, has his fortune entirely to make — cannot be at all 
beforehand with the world. Whatever money he might come 
into when his father died, whatever his share of the family 
property, it is, I daresay, all afloat, all employed in his stock 

23 



EMMA 

and so forth ; and though, with diligence and good luck, he 
may be rich in time, it is next to impossible that he should 
have realised anything yet.' 

' To be sure, so it is. But they live very comfortably. 
They have no indoors man — else they do not want for any- 
thing ; and Mrs. Martin talks of taking a boy another year.' 

' I wish you may not get into a scrape, Harriet, whenever 
he does marry, — I mean, as to being acquainted with his wife ; 
for though his sisters, from a superior education, are not to be 
altogether objected to, it does not follow that he might marry 
anybody at all fit for you to notice. The misfortune of your 
birth ought to make you particularly careful as to your 
associates. There can be no doubt of your being a gentleman's 
daughter, and you must support your claim to that station by 
everything within your own power, or there will be plenty of 
people who would take pleasure in degrading you.' 

' Yes, to be sure, I suppose there are. But while I visit at 
Hartfield, and you are so kind to me. Miss Woodhouse, I am 
not afraid of what anybody can do.' 

' You understand the force of influence pretty well, Harriet, 
but I would have you so firmly established in good society, as 
to be independent even of Hartfield and Miss Woodhouse. I 
want to see you permanently well connected, — and to that end 
it will be advisable to have as few odd acquaintance as may 
be ; and, therefore, I say, that if you should still be in this 
country when Mr. Martin marries, I wish you may not be 
drawn in, by your intimacy with the sisters, to be acquainted 
with the wife, who will probably be some mere farmer's 
daughter, without education.' 

' To be sure. Yes. Not that I think Mr. Martin would 
ever marry anybody but what had had some education, and 
been very well brought up. However, I do not mean to set 
up my opinion against yours, — and I am sure I shall not wish 
for the acquaintance of his wife. I shall always have a great 
regard for the Miss Martins, especially Elizabeth, and should 
be very sorry to give them up, for they are quite as well 
educated as me. But if he marries a very ignorant, vulgar 
woman, certainly I had better not visit her, if I can help it.' 

Emma watched her through the fluctuations of this speech, 
and saw no alarming symptoms of love. The young man had 
been the first admirer, but she trusted there was no other hold, 

24 



EMMA 

and that there would be no serious difficulty on Harriet's side 
to oppose any friendly arrangement of her own. 

They met Mr. Martin the very next day, as they were 
walking on the Donwell road. He was on foot, and after 
looking very respectfully at her, looked with most unfeigned 
satisfaction at her companion. Emma was not sorry to have 
such an opportunity of survey ; and walking a few yards for- 
ward, while they talked together, soon made her quick eye 
sufficiently acquainted with Mr. Robert Martin. His appear- 
ance was very neat, and he looked like a sensible young man, 
but his person had no other advantage ; and when he came to 
be contrasted with gentlemen, she thought he must lose all the 
ground he had gained in Harriet's inclination. Harriet was 
not insensible of manner ; she had voluntarily noticed her 
father's gentleness with admiration as well as wonder. Mr. 
Martin looked as if he did not know what manner was. 

They remained but a few minutes together, as Miss Wood- 
house must not be kept waiting ; and Harriet then came 
running to her with a smiling face, and in a flutter of spirits, 
which Miss Woodhouse hoped very soon to compose. 

* Only think of our happening to meet him ! How very 
odd ! It was quite a chance, he said, that he had not gone 
round by Randalls. He did not think we ever walked this 
road. He thought we walked towards Randalls most days. 
He has not been able to get the Romance of the Forest yet. 
He was so busy the last time he was at Kingston that he quite 
forgot it, but he goes again to-morrow. So very odd we 
should happen to meet ! Well, Miss Woodhouse, is he like 
what you expected ? What do you think of him ? Do you 
think him so very plain ? ' 

' He is very plain, undoubtedly, remarkably plain ; but that 
is nothing compared with his entire want of gentility. I had 
no right to expect much, and I did not expect much ; but I 
had no idea that he could be so very clownish, so totally 
without air. I had imagined him, I confess, a degree or two 
nearer gentility.' 

'To be sure,' said Harriet, in a mortified voice, 'he is not 
so genteel as real gentlemen.' 

' I think, Harriet, since your acquaintance with us, you 
have been repeatedly in the company of some, such very real 
gentlemen, that you must yourself be struck with the difference 

25 



EMMA 

in Mr. Martin. At Hartfield, you have had very good speci- 
mens of well-educated, well-bred men. I should be surprised 
if, after seeing them, you could be in company with Mr. Martin 
again without perceiving him to be a very inferior creature, — 
and rather wondering at yourself for having ever thought him 
at all agreeable before. Do not you begin to feel that now ? 
Were not you struck ? I am sure you must have been struck 
by his awkward look and abrupt manner ; and the uncouthness 
of a voice, which I heard to be wholly unmodulated as I stood 
here.' 

' Certainly, he is not like Mr. Knightley. He has not such 
a fine air and way of walking as Mr. Knightley. I see the 
difference plain enough. But Mr. Knightley is so very fine a 
man !' 

* Mr. Knightley's air is so remarkably good that it is not 
fair to compare Mr. Martin with him. You might not see one 
in a hundred, with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr. 
Knightley. But he is not the only gentleman you have been 
lately used to. What say you to Mr. Weston and Mr. Elton ? 
Compare Mr. Martin with either of them. Compare their 
manner of carrying themselves ; of walking ; of speaking ; of 
being silent. You must see the difference.' 

' Oh yes, there is a great difference. But Mr. Weston is 
almost an old man. Mr. Weston must be between forty and 
fifty.' 

' Which makes his good manners the more valuable. The 
older a person grows, Harriet, the more important it is that 
their manners should not be bad, — the more glaring and dis- 
gusting any loudness, or coarseness, or awkwardness becomes. 
What is passable in youth is detestable in later age. Mr. 
Martin is now awkward and abrupt ; what will he be at Mr. 
Weston's time of life ? ' 

' There is no saying, indeed,' replied Harriet, rather 
solemnly. 

< But there may be pretty good guessing. He will be a 
completely gross, vulgar farmer, — totally inattentive to appear- 
ances, and thinking of nothing but profit and loss.' 

' Will he, indeed t that will be very bad.' 

' How much his business engrosses him already is very 
plain from the circumstance of his forgetting to inquire for 
the book you recommended. He was a great deal too full of 

26 



EMMA 

the market to think of anything else, — which is just as it 
should be, for a thriving man. What has he to do with 
books ? And I have no doubt that he will thrive and be a 
very rich man in time, — and his being illiterate and coarse 
need not disturb us.^ 

' I wonder he did not remember the book,' was all Harriet's 
answer, and spoken with a degree of grave displeasure which 
Emma thought might be safely left to itself. She, therefore, 
said no more for some time. Her next beginning was — 

' In one respect, perhaps, Mr. Elton's manners are superior 
to Mr. Knightley's or Mr. Weston's. They have more gentle- 
ness. They might be more safely held up as a pattern. There 
is an openness, a quickness, almost a bluntness in Mr. Weston, 
which everybody likes in hhn^ because there is so much good- 
humour with it — but that would not do to be copied. Neither 
would Mr. Knightley's downright, decided, commanding sort of 
manner — though it suits him very well : his figure, and look, 
and situation in life seem to allow it ; but if any young man 
were to set about copying him, he would not be sufferable. 
On the contrary, I think a young man might be very safely 
recommended to take Mr. Elton as a model. Mr. Elton is 
good-humoured, cheerful, obliging, and gentle. He seems to 
me to be grown particularly gentle of late. I do not know 
whether he has any design of ingratiating himself with either 
of us, Harriet, by additional softness, but it strikes me that his 
manners are softer than they used to be. If he means any- 
thing, it must be to please you. Did not I tell you what he 
said of you the other day ? ' 

She then repeated some warm personal praise which she 
had drawn from Mr. Elton, and now did full justice to ; and 
Harriet blushed and smiled, and said she had always thought 
Mr. Elton very agreeable. 

Mr. Elton was the very person fixed on by Emma for 
driving the young farmer out of Harriet's head. She thought 
it would be an excellent match ; and only too palpably desir- 
able, natural, and probable for her to have much merit in plan- 
ning it. She feared it was what everybody else must think of 
and predict. It was not likely, however, that anybody should 
have equalled her in the date of the plan, as it had entered her 
brain during the very first evening of Harriet's coming to 
Hartfield. The longer she considered it, the greater was her 

27 



EMMA 

sense of its expediency. Mr. Elton's situation was most suitable, 
quite the gentleman himself, and without low connections ; at 
the same time not of any family that could fairly object to the 
doubtful birth of Harriet. He had a comfortable home for her, 
and Emma imagined a very sufficient income ; for though the 
vicarage of Highbury was not large, he was known to have 
some independent property ; and she thought very highly of 
him as a good-humoured, well-meaning, respectable young man, 
without any deficiency of useful understanding or knowledge of 
the world. 

She had already satisfied herself that he thought Harriet a 
beautiful girl, which she trusted, with such frequent meetings 
at Hartfield, was foundation enough on his side ; and on 
Harriet's there could be little doubt that the idea of being pre- 
ferred by him would have all the usual weight and efficacy. 
And he was really a very pleasing young man, a young man 
whom any woman not fastidious might like. He was reckoned 
very handsome ; his person much admired in general, though 
not by her, there being a want of elegance of feature which she 
could not dispense with ; but the girl who could be gratified 
by a Robert Martin's riding about the country to get walnuts 
for her might very well be conquered by Mr. Elton's ad- 
miration. 



CHAPTER V 

* I DO not know what your opinion may be, Mrs. Weston,' 
said Mr. Knightley, ' of this great intimacy between Emma 
and Harriet Smith, but I think it is a bad thing.' 

' A bad thing ! Do you really think it a bad thing ? — 
why so ? ' 

' I think they will neither of them do the other any good.' 
' You surprise me ! Emma must do Harriet good ; and by 
supplying her with a new object of interest, Harriet may be 
said to do Emma good. I have been seeing their intimacy with 
the greatest pleasure. How very differently we feel ! Not 
think they will do each other any good ! This will certainly 
be the beginning of one of our quarrels about Emma, Mr. 
Knightley.' 

28 



EMMA 

* Perhaps you think I am come on purpose to quarrel with 
you, knowing Weston to be out, and that you must still fight 
your own battle.' 

* Mr. Weston would undoubtedly support me, if he were 
here, for he thinks exactly as I do on the subject. We were 
speaking of it only yesterday, and agreeing how fortunate it 
was for Emma that there should be such a girl in Highbury 
for her to associate with. Mr. Knightley, I shall not allow 
you to be a fair judge in this case. You are so much used to 
live alone that you do not know the value of a companion ; 
and, perhaps, no man can be a good judge of the comfort a 
woman feels in the society of one of her own sex, after being used 
to it all her life. I can imagine your objection to Harriet 
Smith. She is not the superior young woman which Emma's 
friend ought to be. But, on the other hand, as Emma wants 
to see her better informed, it will be an inducement to her to 
read more herself. They will read together. She means it, I 
know.' 

' Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was 
twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her draw- 
ing up at various times of books that she meant to read 
regularly through — and very good lists they were — very well 
chosen, and very neatly arranged — sometimes alphabetically, 
and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up 
when only fourteen — I remember thinking it did her judg- 
ment so much credit, that I preserved it some time ; and I 
daresay she may have made out a very good list now. But I 
have done with expecting any course of steady reading from 
Emma. She will never submit to anything requiring industry 
and patience, and a subjection of the fancy to the under- 
standing. Where Miss Taylor failed to stimulate, I may 
safely affirm that Harriet Smith will do nothing. You never 
could persuade her to read half so much as you wished. You 
know you could not.' 

* I daresay,' replied Mrs. Weston smiling, ' that I thought 
so then; but since we have parted, I can never remember 
Emma's omitting to do anything I wished.' 

' There is hardly any desiring to refresh such a memory as 
that^ said Mr. Knightley feelingly ; and for a moment or 
two he had done. ' But I,' he soon added, ' who have had 
no such charm thrown over my senses, must still see, hear, 

29 



EMMA 

and remember. Emma is spoiled by being the cleverest of 
her family. At ten years old she had the misfortune of 
being able to answer questions which puzzled her sister at 
seventeen. She was always quick and assured ; Isabella 
slow and diffident. And ever since she was twelve, Emma 
has been mistress of the house and of you all. In her mother 
she lost the only person able to cope with her. She inherits 
her mother's talents, and must have been under subjection 
to her.' 

' I should have been sorry, Mr. Knightley, to be dependent 
on your recommendation, had I quitted Mr. Woodhouse's 
family and wanted another situation ; I do not think you 
would have spoken a good word for me to anybody. I am 
sure you always thought me unfit for the office I held.' 

' Yes,' said he smiling. ' You are better placed here; very 
fit for a wife, but not at all for a governess. But you were 
preparing yourself to be an excellent wife all the time you were 
at Hartfield. You might not give Emma such a complete 
education as your powers would seem to promise ; but you 
were receiving a very good education from her^ on the very 
material matrimonial point of submitting your own will, and 
doing as you were bid ; and if Weston had asked me to 
recommend him a wife, I should certainly have named Miss 
Taylor.' 

' Thank you. There will be very little merit in making a 
good wife to such a man as Mr. Weston.' 

' Why, to own the truth, I am afraid you are rather thrown 
away, and that with every disposition to bear, there will be 
nothing to be borne. We will not despair, however. Weston 
may grow cross from the wantonness of comfort, or his son 
may plague him.' 

' I hope not that. It is not likely. No, Mr. Knightley, 
do not foretell vexation from that quarter.' 

' Not I, indeed. I only name possibilities. I do not pre- 
tend to Emma's genius for foretelling and guessing. I hope, 
with all my heart, the young man may be a Weston in merit, 
and a Churchill in fortune. But Harriet Smith, — I have not 
half done about Harriet Smith. I think her the very worst 
sort of companion that Emma could possibly have. She 
knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing 
everything. She is a flatterer in all her ways ; and so much 

30 



EMMA 

the worse, because undesigned. Her ignorance is hourly 
flattery. How can Emma imagine she has anything to learn 
herself, while Harriet is presenting such a delightful inferiority ? 
And as for Harriet, I will venture to say that s/ie cannot gain 
by the acquaintance. Hartfield will only put her out of con- 
ceit with all the other places she belongs to. She will grow 
just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among 
whom birth and circumstances have placed her home. I am 
much mistaken if Emma's doctrines give any strength of mind, 
or tend at all to make a girl adapt herself rationally to the 
varieties of her situation in life. They only give a little 
polish.' 

' I either depend more upon Emma's good sense than you 
do, or am more anxious for her present comfort ; for I cannot 
lament the acquaintance. How well she looked last night.' 

' Oh, you would rather talk of her person than her mind, 
would you ! Very well ; I shall not attempt to deny Emma's 
being pretty.' 

* Pretty ! say beautiful rather. Can you imagine anything 
nearer perfect beauty than Emma altogether — face and 
figure ? ' 

' I do not know what I Could imagine, but I confess that I 
have seldom seen a face or figure more pleasing to me than 
hers. But I am a partial old friend.' 

'Such an eye! — the true hazel eye — and so brilliant! 
regular features, open countenance, with a complexion — oh, 
what a bloom of full health, and such a pretty height and size ; 
such a firm and upright figure. There is health, not merely 
in her bloom, but in her air, her head, her glance. One hears 
sometimes of a child being " the picture of health ; " now 
Emma always gives me the idea of being the complete picture 
of grown-up health. She is loveliness itself, Mr. Knightley, 
is not she ? ' 

* I have not a fault to find with her person,' he replied. 
* I think her all you describe. I love to look at her ; and I 
will add this praise, that I do not think her personally vain. 
Considering how very handsome she is, she appears to be 
little occupied with it ; her vanity lies another way. Mrs. 
Weston, I am not to be talked out of my dislike of her 
intimacy with Harriet Smith, or my dread of its doing them 
both harm.' 

31 



EMMA 

'And I, Mr. Knightley, am equally stout in my confidence 
of its not doing them any harm. With all dear Emma's little 
faults, she is an excellent creature. Where shall we see a 
better daughter, or a kinder sister, or a truer friend ? No, 
no ; she has qualities which may be trusted ; she will never 
lead any one really wrong ; she will make no lasting blunder ; 
where Emma errs once, she is in the right a hundred times.' 

' Very well ; I will not plague you any more. Emma shall 
be an angel, and I will keep my spleen to myself till Christmas 
brings John and Isabella. John loves Emma with a reason- 
able and therefore not a blind affection, and Isabella always 
thinks as he does, except when he is not quite frightened 
enough about the children. I am sure of having their opinions 
with me.' 

' I know that you all love her really too well to be unjust 
or unkind ; but excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if I take the liberty 
(I consider myself, you know, as having somewhat of the 
privilege of speech that Emma's mother might have had), the 
liberty of hinting that I do not think any possible good can 
arise from Harriet Smith's intimacy being made a matter of 
much discussion among you. Pray excuse me ; but supposing 
any little inconvenience may be apprehended from the intimacy, 
it cannot be expected that Emma, accountable to nobody but 
her father, who perfectly approves the acquaintance, should 
put an end to it, so long as it is a source of pleasure to herself. 
It has been so many years my province to give advice, that 
you cannot be surprised, Mr. Knightley, at this little remains 
of office.' 

' Not at all,' cried he ; ' I am much obliged to you for it. 
It is very good advice, and it shall have a better fate than 
your advice has often found ; for it shall be attended to.' 

' Mrs. John Knightley is easily alarmed, and might be made 
unhappy about her sister.' 

' Be satisfied,' said he ; 'I will not raise any outcry. I 
will keep my ill -humour to myself. I have a very sincere 
interest in Emma. Isabella does not seem more my sister : 
has never excited a greater interest — perhaps hardly so great. 
There is an anxiety, a curiosity, in what one feels for Emma. 
I wonder what will become of her.' 

'So do I,' said Mrs. Weston gently, 'very much.' 

' She always declares she will never marry, which, of course, 

32 



EMMA 

means just nothing at all. But I have no idea that she has 
yet ever seen a man she cared for. It would not be a bad 
thing for her to be very much in love with a proper object. 
I should like to see Emma in love, and in some doubt of a 
return ; it would do her good. But there is nobody hereabouts 
to attach her ; and she goes so seldom from home.' 

' There does, indeed, seem as little to tempt her to break 
her resolution at present,' said Mrs. Weston, 'as can well 
be ; and while she is so happy at Hartfield, I cannot wish her 
to be forming any attachment which would be creating such 
difficulties, on poor Mr. Woodhouse's account. I do not 
recommend matrimony at present to Emma, though I mean 
no slight to the state, I assure you.' 

Part of her meaning was to conceal some favourite thoughts 
of her own and Mr. Weston's on the subject as much as 
possible. There were wishes at Randalls respecting Emma's 
destiny, but it was not desirable to have them suspected ; 
and the quiet transition which Mr. Knightley soon afterwards 
made to ' What does Weston think of the weather ? — shall we 
have rain ? ' — convinced her that he had nothing more to say 
or surmise about Hartfield. 



CHAPTER VI 

Emma could not feel a doubt of having given Harriet's fancy 
a proper direction, and raised the gratitude of her young vanity 
to a very good purpose ; for she found her decidedly more sen- 
sible than before of Mr. Elton's being a remarkably handsome 
man, with most agreeable manners ; and as she had no hesita- 
tion in following up the assurance of his admiration by agree- 
able hints, she was soon pretty confident of creating as much 
liking on Harriet's side as there could be any occasion for. 
She was quite convinced of Mr. Elton's being in the fairest 
way of falling in love, if not in love already. She had no 
scruple with regard to him. He talked of Harriet ; and 
praised her so warmly, that she could not suppose anything 
wanting which a little time would not add. His perception of 
the striking improvement of Harriet's manner, since her intro- 

D 33 



EMMA 

duction at Hartfield, was not one of the least agreeable proofs 
of his growing attachment. 

'You have given Miss Smith all that she required,' said 
he : ' you have made her graceful and easy. She was a 
beautiful creature when she came to you ; but, in my opinion, 
the attractions you have added are infinitely superior to what 
she received from nature.' 

' I am glad you think I have been useful to her ; but 
Harriet only wanted drawing out, and receiving a few, very 
few, hints. She had all the natural grace of sweetness of 
temper and artlessness in herself I have done very little.' 

' If it were admissible to contradict a lady ' said gallant 

Mr, Elton. 

' I have, perhaps, given her a little more decision of 
character, — have taught her to think on points which had not 
fallen in her way before.' 

' Exactly so ; that is what principally strikes me. So 
much superadded decision of character ! Skilful has been the 
hand.' 

' Great has been the pleasure, I am sure. I never met 
with a disposition more truly amiable.' 

' I have no doubt of it.' And it was spoken with a sort of 
sighing animation which had a vast deal of the lover. She 
was not less pleased, another day, with the manner in which 
he seconded a sudden wish of hers — to have Harriet's picture. 

' Did you ever have your likeness taken, Harriet ? ' said 
she ; ' did you ever sit for your picture ? ' 

Harriet was on the point of leaving the room, and only 
stopped to say with a very interesting naivete — 

' Oh, dear, no, — never.' 

No sooner was she out of sight than Emma exclaimed — 

' What an exquisite possession a good picture of her would 
be ! I would give any money for it. I almost long to attempt 
her likeness myself. You do not know it, I daresay ; but, 
two or three years ago, I had a great passion for taking like- 
nesses, and attempted several of my friends, and was thought 
to have a tolerable eye in general ; but from one cause or 
another, I gave it up in disgust. But, really, I could almost 
venture, if Harriet would sit to me. It would be such a 
delight to have her picture ! ' 

' Let me entreat you,' cried Mr. Elton, — ' it would indeed 

34 



EMMA 

be a delight ; let me entreat you, Miss Woodhouse, to exercise 
so charming a talent in favour of your friend. I know what 
your drawings are. How could you suppose me ignorant .'' 
Is not this room rich in specimens of your landscapes and 
flowers ? and has not Mrs. Weston some inimitable figure- 
pieces in her drawing-room at Randalls ? ' 

Yes, good man ! — thought Emma — but what has all that to 
do with taking likenesses ? You know nothing of drawing. 
Don't pretend to be in raptures about mine. Keep your 
raptures for Harriet's face. ' Well, if you give me such kind 
encouragement, Mr. Elton, I believe I shall try what I can do. 
Harriet's features are very delicate, which makes a likeness 
difficult ; and yet there is a peculiarity in the shape of the 
eye and the lines about the mouth which one ought to 
catch.' 

' Exactly so, — the shape of the eye and the lines about the 
mouth, — I have not a doubt of your success. Pray, pray 
attempt it. As you will do it, it will indeed, to use your own 
words, be an exquisite possession.' 

' But I am afraid, Mr. Elton, Harriet will not like to sit, — 
she thinks so little of her own beauty. Did not you observe 
her manner of answering me? How completely it meant, 
" Why should my picture be drawn ? " ' 

' Oh yes, I observed it, I assure you. It was not lost on 
me. But still I cannot imagine she would not be persuaded.' 

Harriet was soon back again, and the proposal almost 
immediately made ; and she had no scruples which could 
stand many minutes against the earnest pressing of both the 
others. Emma wished to go to work directly, and therefore 
produced the portfolio containing her various attempts at 
portraits, for not one of them had ever been finished, that they 
might decide together on the best size for Harriet. Her many 
beginnings were displayed. Miniatures, half-lengths, whole- 
lengths, pencil, crayon, and water-colours had been all tried in 
turn. She had always wanted to do everything, and had 
made more progress both in drawing and music than many 
might have done with so little labour as she would ever submit 
to. She played and sang, and drew in almost every style ; 
but steadiness had always been wanting ; and in nothing had 
she approached the degree of excellence which she would have 
been glad to command, and ought not to have failed of. She 

35 



EMMA 

was not much deceived as to her own skill, either as an artist 
or a musician ; but she was not unwilling to have others 
deceived, or sorry to know her reputation for accomplishment 
often higher than it deserved. 

There was merit in every drawing, — in the least finished, 
perhaps the most. Her style was spirited ; but had there 
been much less, or had there been ten times more, the deHght 
and admiration of her two companions would have been the 
same. They were both in ecstasies. A likeness pleases 
everybody ; and Miss Woodhouse's performances must be 
capital. 

* No great variety of faces for you,' said Emma. ' I had 
only my own family to study from. There is my father, — 
another of my father ; — but the idea of sitting for his picture 
made him so nervous that I could only take him by stealth ; 
neither of them very like, therefore. Mrs. Weston again, and 
again, and again, you see. Dear Mrs. Weston — always my 
kindest friend on every occasion. She would sit whenever I 
asked her. There is my sister; and really quite her own 
little elegant figure — and the face not unlike. I should have 
made a good likeness of her, if she would have sat longer ; 
but she was in such a hurry to have me draw her four children 
that she would not be quiet. Then, here come all my attempts 
at three of those four children : — there they are, Henry, and 
John, and Bella, from one end of the sheet to the other, and 
any one of them might do for any one of the rest. She was 
so eager to have them drawn that I could not refuse ; but 
there is no making children of three or four years old stand 
still, you know ; nor can it be very easy to take any likeness 
of them, beyond the air and complexion, unless they are 
coarser featured than any of mamma's children ever were. 
Here is my sketch of the fourth, who was a baby. I took him 
as he was sleeping on the sofa, and it is as strong a likeness 
of his cockade as you would wish to see. He had nestled 
down his head most conveniently : — that's very like. I am 
rather proud of little George. The corner of the sofa is very 
good. Then here is my last,' — unclosing a pretty sketch of a 
gentleman in small size, whole-length, — ' my last and my best, 
— my brother, Mr. John Knightley. This did not want much 
of being 'finished, when I put it away in a pet, and vowed I 
would never take another likeness. I could not help being 

36 



EMMA 

provoked ; for after all my pains, and when I had really made 
a very good likeness of it — (Mrs. Weston and I were quite 
agreed in thinking it very like) — only too handsome — too 
flattering — but that was a fault on the right side ; — after all 
this, came poor dear Isabella's cold approbation of — " Yes, it 
was a little like ; but to be sure it did not do him justice." 
We had had a great deal of trouble in persuading him to sit 
at all. It was made a great favour of ; and altogether it was 
more than I could bear ; and so I never would finish it, to 
have it apologised over as an unfavourable likeness, to every 
morning visitor in Brunswick Square ; and, as I said, I did then 
forswear ever drawing anybody again. But for Harriet's sake, 
or rather for my own, and as there are no husbands and wives 
in the case at present, I will break my resolution now.' 

Mr. Elton seemed very properly struck and delighted by 
the idea, and was repeating, ' No husbands and wives in the 
case at present^ indeed, as you observe. Exactly so. No 
husbands and wives,' with so interesting a consciousness that 
Emma began to consider whether she had not better leave 
them together at once. But as she wanted to be drawing, the 
declaration must wait a little longer. 

She had soon fixed on the size and sort of portrait. It 
was to be a whole-length in water-colours, like Mr. John 
Knightley's, and was destined, if she could please herself, to 
hold a very honourable station over the mantelpiece. 

The sitting began ; and Harriet, smiling and blushing, and 
afraid of not keeping her attitude and countenance, presented 
a very sweet mixture of youthful expression to the steady eyes 
of the artist. But there was no doing anything, with Mr. 
Elton fidgeting behind her, and watching every touch. She 
gave him credit for stationing himself where he might gaze 
and gaze again without offence ; but was really obliged to put 
an end to it, and request him to place himself elsewhere. It 
then occurred to her to employ him in reading. 

' If he would be so good as to read to them, it would be 
a kindness indeed. It would amuse away the difficulties of 
her part, and lessen the irksomeness of Miss Smith's.' 

Mr. Elton was only too happy. Harriet listened, and 
Emma drew in peace. She must allow him to be still fre- 
quently coming to look ; anything less would certainly have 
been too little in a lover ; and he was ready at the smallest 

37 




Ready to jump up and see the progress. 



EMMA 

intermission of the pencil to jump up and see the progress, 
and be charmed. There was no being displeased with such 
an encourager, for his admiration made him discern a like- 
ness almost before it was possible. She could not respect his 
eye, but his love and his complaisance were unexceptionable. 

The sitting was altogether very satisfactory ; she was quite 
enough pleased with the first day's sketch to wish to go on. 
There was no want of likeness ; she had been fortunate in the 
attitude ; and as she meant to throw in a little improvement 
to the figure, to give a little more height, and considerably 
more elegance, she had great confidence of its being in every 
way a pretty drawing at last, and of its filling its destined 
place with credit to them both ; — a standing memorial of the 
beauty of one, the skill of the other, and the friendship of 
both ; with as many other agreeable associations as Mr. 
Elton's very promising attachment was likely to add. 

Harriet was to sit again the next day ; and Mr. Elton, just 
as he ought, entreated for the permission of attending and 
reading to them again. 

* By all means. We shall be most happy to consider you 
as one of the party.' 

The same civilities and courtesies, the same success and 
satisfaction, took place on the morrow, and accompanied the 
whole progress of the picture, which was rapid and happy. 
Everybody who saw it was pleased, but Mr. Elton was in con- 
tinual raptures, and defended it through every criticism. 

* Miss Woodhouse has given her friend the only beauty 
she wanted,' observed Mrs. Weston to him, not in the least 
suspecting that she was addressing a lover. ' The expression 
of the eye is most correct, but Miss Smith has not those 
eyebrows and eyelashes. It is the fault of her face that she 
has them not.' 

'Do you think so ?' replied he. ' I cannot agree with you. 
It appears to me a most perfect resemblance in every feature. 
I never saw such a likeness in my life. We must allow for 
the effect of shade, you know.' 

' You have made her too tall, Emma,' said Mr. Knightley. 

Emma knew that she had, but would not own it ; and Mr. 
Elton warmly added — 

' Oh no — certainly not too tall — not in the least too tall. 
Consider she is sitting down, which naturally presents a 

39 



EMMA 

different — which in short gives exactly the idea ; — and the 
proportions must be preserved, you know. Proportions, 
foreshortening : — oh no ; it gives one exactly the idea of such 
a height as Miss Smith's ; exactly so, indeed.' 

' It is very pretty,' said Mr. Woodhouse. ' So prettily 
done ! Just as your drawings always are, my dear. I do not 
know anybody who draws so well as you do. The only thing 
I do not thoroughly like is, that she seems to be sitting out of 
doors, with only a little shawl over her shoulders ; and it 
makes one think she must catch cold.' 

' But, my dear papa, it is supposed to be summer ; a warm 
day in summer. Look at the tree.' 

' But it is never safe to sit out of doors, my dear.' 

' You, sir, may say anything,' cried Mr. Elton ; ' but I 
must confess that I regard it as a most happy thought, the 
placing Miss Smith out of doors ; and the tree is touched 
with such inimitable spirit ! Any other situation would have 
been much less in character. The naivetS of Miss Smith's 
manners, — and altogether — oh, it is most admirable ! I cannot 
keep my eyes from it. I never saw such a likeness.' 

The next thing wanted was to get the picture framed ; 
and here were a few difficulties. It must be done directly ; it 
must be done in London ; the order must go through the 
hands of some intelligent person whose taste could be 
depended on ; and Isabella, the usual doer of all commissions, 
must not be applied to, because it was December, and Mr. 
Woodhouse could not bear the idea of her stirring out of her 
house in the fogs of December. But no sooner was the 
distress known to Mr. Elton than it was removed. His 
gallantry was always on the alert. ' Might he be trusted with 
the commission ; what infinite pleasure should he have in 
executing it ! he could ride to London at any time. It was 
impossible to say how much he should be gratified by being 
employed on such an errand.' 

' He was too good ! — she could not endure the thought ! — 
she would not give him such a troublesome office for the 
world,' — brought on the desired repetition of entreaties and 
assurances, — and a very few minutes settled the business. 

Mr. Elton was to take the drawing to London, choose the 
frame, and give the directions ; and Emma thought she could 
so pack it as to ensure its safety without much incommoding 

40 



EMMA 

him, while he seemed mostly fearful of not being incommoded 
enough. 

* What a precious deposit ! ' said he, with a tender sigh, as 
he received it. 

'This man is almost too gallant to be in love,' thought 
Emma, ' I should say so, but that I suppose there may be a 
hundred different ways of being in love. He is an excellent 
young man, and will suit Harriet exactly ; it will be an 
" exactly so," as he says himself; but he does sigh and languish, 
and study for compliments rather more than I could endure as 
a principal. I come in for a pretty good share as a second. 
But it is his gratitude on Harriet's account.' 



CHAPTER VII 

The very day of Mr. Elton's going to London produced a 
fresh occasion for Emma's services towards her friend. 
Harriet had been at Hartfield, as usual, soon after breakfast ; 
and after a time had gone home to return again to dinner ; 
she returned, and sooner than had been talked of, and with an 
agitated, hurried look, announcing something extraordinary to 
have happened which she was longing to tell. Half a minute 
brought it all out. She had heard, as soon as she got back to 
Mrs. Goddard's, that Mr. Martin had been there an hour 
before, and finding she was not at home, not particularly 
expected, had left a little parcel for her from one of his sisters, 
and gone away ; and on opening this parcel, she had actually 
found, besides the two songs which she had lent Elizabeth to 
copy, a letter to herself; and this letter was from him, from 
Mr. Martin, and contained a direct proposal of marriage. 
' Who could have thought it ! She was so surprised she did 
not know what to do. Yes, quite a proposal of marriage ; and 
a very good letter, at least, she thought so. And he wrote as 
if he really loved her very much — but she did not know — and 
so, she was come as fast as she could to ask Miss Woodhouse 
what she should do.' Emma was half ashamed of her friend 
for seeming so pleased and so doubtful. 

* Upon my word,' she cried, ' the young man is determined 

41 



EMMA 

not to lose anything for want of asking. He will connect 
himself well if he can.' 

' Will you read the letter ? ' cried Harriet. ' Pray do. I'd 
rather you would.' 

Emma was not sorry to be pressed. She read, and was 
surprised. The style of the letter was much above her 
expectation. There were not merely no grammatical errors, 
but as a composition it would not have disgraced a gentleman : 
the language, though plain, was strong and unaffected, and 
the sentiments it conveyed very much to the credit of the 
writer. It was short, but expressed good sense, warm 
attachment, liberality, propriety, even delicacy of feeling. 
She paused over it, while Harriet stood anxiously watching for 
her opinion, with a ' Well, well,' and was at last forced to add, 
' Is it a good letter, or is it too short ? ' 

*Yes, indeed, a very good letter,' replied Emma, rather 
slowly ; — 'so good a letter, Harriet, that, everything considered, 
I think one of his sisters must have helped him. I can hardly 
imagine the young man whom I saw talking with you the other 
day could express himself so well, if left quite to his own 
powers, and yet it is not the style of a woman ; no, certainly, 
it is too strong and concise ; not diffuse enough for a woman. 
No doubt he is a sensible man, and I suppose may have a 
natural talent for — thinks strongly and clearly — and when he 
takes a pen in hand, his thoughts naturally find proper words. 
It is so with some men. Yes, I understand the sort of mind. 
Vigorous, decided, with sentiments to a certain point, not 
coarse. A better written letter, Harriet (returning it), than I 
had expected.' 

' Well,' said the still waiting Harriet ; — ' well — and — and 
what shall I do ? ' 

' What shall you do ! In what respect ? Do you mean 
with regard to this letter ?' 

' Yes.' 

'But what are you in doubt of? You must answer it, of 
course — and speedily.' 

' Yes. But what shall I say ? Dear Miss Woodhouse, do 
advise me.' 

' Oh no, no ; the letter had much better be all your own. 
You will express yourself very properly, I am sure. There is 
no danger of your not being intelligible, which is the first thing. 

42 



EMMA 

Your meaning must be unequivocal ; no doubts or demurs ; and 
such expressions of gratitude and concern for the pain you are 
inflicting as propriety requires, will present themselves unbidden 
to your mind, I am persuaded. You need not be prompted to 
write with the appearance of sorrow for his disappointment.' 

'You think I ought to refuse him, then?' said Harriet, 
looking down. 

* Ought to refuse him ! My dear Harriet, what do you 
mean ? Are you in any doubt as to that ? I thought — but I 
beg your pardon, perhaps I have been under a mistake. I 
certainly have been misunderstanding you, if you feel in doubt 
as to the purport of your answer. I had imagined you were 
consulting me only as to the wording of it.' 

Harriet was silent. With a little reserve of manner, Emma 
continued — 

' You mean to return a favourable answer, I collect.' 

' No, I do not ; that is I do not mean — What shall I do ? 
What would you advise me to do ? Pray, dear Miss Wood- 
house, tell me what I ought to do.' 

' I shall not give you any advice, Harriet. I will have 
nothing to do with it. This is a point which you must settle 
with your own feelings.' 

' I had no notion that he liked me so very much,' said 
Harriet, contemplating the letter. For a little while Emma 
persevered in her silence ; but beginning to apprehend the 
bewitching flattery of that letter might be too powerful, she 
thought it best to say — 

' I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman 
doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she 
certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to 
" Yes," she ought to say " No " directly. It is not a state to 
be safely entered into with doubtful feelings, with half a heart. 
I thought it my duty as a friend, and older than yourself, to 
say thus much to you. But do not imagine that I want to 
influence you.' 

' Oh no, I am sure you are a great deal too kind to but 

if you would just advise me what I had best do : — no, no, I do 
not mean that : — as you say one's mind ought to be quite made 
up — one should not be hesitating : — it is a very serious thing. 
It will be safer to say " No," perhaps. Do you think I had 
better say "No?"' 

43 



EMMA 

* Not for the world,' said Emma, smiling graciously, < would 
I advise you either way. You must be the best judge of your 
own happiness. If you prefer Mr. Martin to every other 
person ; if you think him the most agreeable man you have 
ever been in company with, why should you hesitate ? You 
blush, Harriet. Does anybody else occur to you at this 
moment under such a definition ? Harriet, Harriet, do not 
deceive yourself; do not be run away with by gratitude and 
compassion. At this moment whom are you thinking of? ' 

The symptoms were favourable. Instead of answering, 
Harriet turned away confused, and stood thoughtfully by the 
fire ; and though the letter was still in her hand, it was now 
mechanically twisted about without regard. Emma waited the 
result with impatience, but not without strong hopes. At last, 
with some hesitation, Harriet said — 

* Miss Woodhouse, as you will not give me your opinion, I 
must do as well as I can by myself; and I have now quite 
determined, and really almost made up my mind, to refuse Mr. 
Martin. Do you think I am right ? ' 

' Perfectly, perfectly right, my dearest Harriet ; you are 
doing just what you ought. While you were at all in suspense, 
I kept my feelings to myself, but now that you are so com- 
pletely decided I have no hesitation in approving. Dear 
Harriet, I give myself joy of this. It would have grieved me 
to lose your acquaintance, which must have been the conse- 
quence of your marrying Mr. Martin. While you were in the 
smallest degree wavering, I said nothing about it, because I 
would not influence ; but it would have been the loss of a friend 
to me. I could not have visited Mrs. Robert Martin, of Abbey- 
Mill Farm. Now I am secure of you for ever.' 

Harriet had not surmised her own danger, but the idea of it 
struck her forcibly. 

* You could not have visited me ! ' she cried, looking 
aghast. ' No, to be sure you could not ; but I never thought 
of that before. That would have been too dreadful ! What 
an escape ! Dear Miss Woodhouse, I would not give up the 
pleasure and honour of being intimate with you for anything in 
the world.' 

' Indeed, Harriet, it would have been a severe pang to lose 
you ; but it must have been. You would have thrown yourself 
out of all good society. I must have given you up.' 

44 



EMMA 

* Dear me ! How should I ever have borne it ? It would 
have killed me never to come to Hartfield any more.' 

* Dear, affectionate creature ! Yoii banished to Abbey-Mill 
Farm ! You confined to the society of the illiterate and vulgar 
all your life ! I wonder how the young man could have the 
assurance to ask it. He must have a pretty good opinion of 
himself.' 

' I do not think he is conceited either, in general,' said 
Harriet, her conscience opposing such censure ; ' at least he is 
very good-natured, and I shall always feel much obliged to 
him, and have a great regard for — but that is quite a different 
thing from — and you know, though he may like me, it does not 
follow that I should — and, certainly, I must confess that since 
my visiting here I have seen people — and if one comes to 
compare them, person and manners, there is no comparison at 
all, one is so very handsome and agreeable. However, I do 
really think Mr. Martin a very amiable young man, and have a 
great opinion of him ; and his being so much attached to me — 
and his writing such a letter — but as to leaving you, it is what 
I would not do upon any consideration. 

'Thank you, thank you, my own sweet httle friend. We 
will not be parted. A woman is not to marry a man merely 
because she is asked, or because he is attached to her, and can 
write a tolerable letter.' 

* Oh no ; — and it is but a short letter, too.' 

Emma felt the bad taste of her friend, but let it pass with 
a * very true ; and it would be a small consolation to her, for 
the clownish manner which might be offending her every hour 
of the day, to know that her husband could write a good 
letter.' 

' Oh yes, very. Nobody cares for a letter : the thing is, 
to be always happy with pleasant companions. I am quite 
determined to refuse him. But how shall I do ? What shall 
I say?' 

Emma assured her there would be no difficulty in the 
answer, and advised its being written directly, which was 
agreed to, in the hope of her assistance ; and though Emma 
continued to protest against any assistance being wanted, it 
was in fact given in the formation of every sentence. The 
looking over his letter again, in replying to it, had such a 
softening tendency, that it was particularly necessary to brace 

45 



EMMA 

her up with a few decisive expressions ; and she was so very 
much concerned at the idea of making him unhappy, and 
thought so much of what his mother and sisters would think 
and say, and was so anxious that they should not fancy her 
ungrateful, that Emma believed if the young man had come 
in her way at that moment, he would have been accepted 
after all. 

This letter, however, was written, and sealed, and sent. 
The business was finished, and Harriet safe. She was rather 
low all the evening ; but Emma could allow for her amiable 
regrets, and sometimes relieved them by speaking of her own 
affection, sometimes by bringing forward the idea of Mr. 
Elton. 

* I shall never be invited to Abbey-Mill again,' was said in 
rather a sorrowful tone. 

' Nor, if you were, could I ever bear to part with you, my 
Harriet. You are a great deal too necessary at Hartfield to 
be spared to Abbey-Mill.' 

' And I am sure I should never want to go there ; for I am 
never happy but at Hartfield.' 

Some time afterwards it was, ' I think Mrs. Goddard would 
be very much surprised if she knew what had happened. I 
am sure Miss Nash would — for Miss Nash thinks her own 
sister very well married, and it is only a linen-draper.' 

' One should be sorry to see greater pride or refinement in 
the teacher of a school, Harriet. I daresay Miss Nash would 
envy you such an opportunity as this of being married. Even 
this conquest would appear valuable in her eyes. As to any- 
thing superior for you, I suppose she is quite in the dark. The 
attentions of a certain person can hardly be among the tittle- 
tattle of Highbury yet. Hitherto I fancy you and I are the 
only people to whom his looks and manners have explained 
themselves.' 

Harriet blushed and smiled, and said something about 
wondering that people should like her so much. The idea of 
Mr. Elton was certainly cheering ; but still, after a time, she 
was tender-hearted again towards the rejected Mr. Martin. 

' Now he has got my letter,' said she softly. ' I wonder 
what they are all doing — whether his sisters know — if he is 
unhappy, they will be unhappy too. I hope he will not mind 
it so very much.' 

46 




Showing your picture to his mother and sisters. 



EMMA 

' Let us think of those among our absent friends who are 
more cheerfully employed,' cried Emma. ' At this moment, 
perhaps, Mr. Elton is showing your picture to his mother and 
sisters, telling how much more beautiful is the original, and 
after being asked for it five or six times, allowing them to hear 
your name, your own dear name.' 

' My picture ! But he has left my picture in Bond Street.' 

' Has he so ! Then I know nothing of Mr. Elton. No, 
my dear little modest Harriet, depend upon it, the picture will 
not be in Bond Street till just before he mounts his horse to- 
morrow. It is his companion all this evening, his solace, his 
delight. It opens his designs to his family, it introduces you 
among them, it diffuses through the party those pleasantest 
feelings of our nature, eager curiosity and warm prepossession. 
How cheerful, how animated, how suspicious, how busy their 
imaginations all are ! ' 

Harriet smiled again, and her smiles grew stronger. 



CHAPTER VIII 

Harriet slept at Hartfield that night. For some weeks past 
she had been spending more than half her time there, and 
gradually getting to have a bedroom appropriated to herself; 
and Emma judged it best in every respect, safest and kindest, 
to keep her with them as much as possible just at present. 
She was obliged to go the next morning, for an hour or two 
to Mrs. Goddard's, but it was then to be settled that she 
should return to Hartfield, to make a regular visit of some 
days. 

While she was gone, Mr. Knightley called, and sat some 
time with Mr. Woodhouse and Emma, till Mr. Woodhouse, 
who had previously made up his mind to walk out, was per- 
suaded by his daughter not to defer it, and was induced by 
the entreaties of both, though against the scruples of his own 
civility, to leave Mr. Knightley for that purpose. Mr. Knightley, 
who had nothing of ceremony about him, was offering, by his 
short, decided answers, an amusing contrast to the protracted 
apologies and civil hesitations of the other. 

48 



EMMA 

'Well, I believe, if you will excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if 
you will not consider me as doing a very rude thing, I shall 
take Emma's advice and go out for a quarter of an hour. As 
the sun is out, I believe I had better take my three turns 
while I can. I treat you without ceremony, Mr. Knightley. 
We invalids think we are privileged people.' 

< My dear sir, do not make a stranger of me.' 

' I leave an excellent substitute in my daughter. Emma 
will be happy to entertain you. And therefore I think I will 
beg your excuse, and take my three turns — my winter walk.' 

'You cannot do better, sir.' 

' I would ask for the pleasure of your company, Mr. 
Knightley, but I am a very slow walker, and my pace would be 
tedious to you ; and, besides, you have another long walk 
before you, to Donwell Abbey.' 

' Thank you, sir, thank you ; I am going this moment 
myself; and I think the sooner you go the better. I will fetch 
your greatcoat and open the garden door for you.' 

Mr. Woodhouse at last was off; but Mr. Knightley, instead 
of being immediately off likewise, sat down again, seemingly 
inclined for more chat. He began speaking of Harriet, and 
speaking of her with more voluntary praise than Emma had 
ever heard before. 

' I cannot rate her beauty as you do,' said he ; ' but she is 
a pretty little creature, and I am inclined to think very well 
of her disposition. Her character depends upon those she is 
with ; but in good hands she will turn out a valuable woman.' 

' I am glad you think so ; and the good hands, I hope, may 
not be wanting.' 

' Come,' said he, ' you are anxious for a compliment, so I 
will tell you that you have improved her. You have cured 
her of her schoolgirl's giggle ; she really does you credit.' 

'Thank you. I should be mortified, indeed, if I did not 
believe I had been of some use ; but it is not everybody who 
will bestow praise where they may. Vou do not often over- 
power me with it.' 

' You are expecting her again, you say, this morning ? ' 

' Almost every moment. She has been gone longer already 
than she intended.' 

' Something has happened to delay her ; some visitors, 
perhaps.' 

E 49 



EMMA 

' Highbury gossips ! Tiresome wretches ! ' 

' Harriet may not consider everybody tiresome that you 
would.' 

Emma knew this was too true for contradiction, and, there- 
fore, said nothing. He presently added, with a smile — 

' I do not pretend to fix on times or places, but I must tell 
you that I have good reason to believe your little friend will 
soon hear of something to her advantage.' 

* Indeed ! how so ? of what sort ? ' 

' A very serious sort, I assure you,' still smiling. 

* Very serious ! I can think of but one thing : — who is in 
love with her ? Who makes you their confidant ? ' 

Emma was more than half in hopes of Mr. Elton's having 
dropped a hint. Mr. Knightley was a sort of general friend 
and adviser, and she knew Mr. Elton looked up to him. 

* I have reason to think,' he replied, ' that Harriet Smith 
will soon have an offer of marriage, and from a most unex- 
ceptionable quarter : — Robert Martin is the man. Her visit 
to Abbey-Mill, this summer, seems to have done his business. 
He is desperately in love, and means to marry her.' 

* He is very obliging,' said Emma ; ' but is he sure that 
Harriet means to marry him ? ' 

* Well, well, means to make her an offer, then. Will that 
do .'^ He came to the Abbey two evenings ago, on purpose to 
consult me about it. He knows I have a thorough regard for 
him and all his family, and, I believe, considers me as one of 
his best friends. He came to ask me whether I thought it 
would be imprudent in him to settle so early ; whether I 
thought her too young : in short, whether I approved his 
choice altogether ; having some apprehension, perhaps, of her 
being considered (especially since your making so much of 
her) as in a line of society above him. I was very much 
pleased with all that he said. I never hear better sense from 
any one than Robert Martin. He always speaks to the 
purpose ; open, straightforward, and very well judging. He 
told me everything ; his circumstances and plans, and what 
they all proposed doing in the event of his marriage. He is 
an excellent young man, both as son and brother. I had no 
hesitation in advising him to marry. He proved to me that 
he could afford it ; and that being the case, I was convinced 
he could not do better. I praised the fair lady too, and 

50 



EMMA 

altogether sent him away very happy. If he had never 
esteemed my opinion before, he would have thought highly of 
me then ; and, I daresay, left the house thinking me the best 
friend and counsellor man ever had. This happened the 
night before last. Now, as we may fairly suppose, he would 
not allow much time to pass before he spoke to the lady, and 
as he does not appear to have spoken yesterday, it is not 
unlikely that he should be at Mrs. Goddard's to-day ; and she 
may be detained by a visitor, without thinking him at all a 
tiresome wretch.' 

' Pray, Mr. Knightley,' said Emma, who had been smihng 
to herself through a great part of this speech, ' how do you 
know that Mr. Martin did not speak yesterday ? ' 

* Certainly,' replied he, surprised, * I do not absolutely know 
it ; but it may be inferred. Was not she the whole day with 
you .'' ' 

* Come,' said she, ' I will tell you something, in return for 
what you have told me. He did speak yesterday — that is, he 
wrote, and was refused.' 

This was obliged to be repeated before it could be believed ; 
and Mr. Knightley actually looked red with surprise and dis- 
pleasure, as he stood up, in tall indignation, and said — 

' Then she is a greater simpleton than I ever believed her. 
What is the foolish girl about ? ' 

* Oh, to be sure,' cried Emma, * it is always incomprehen- 
sible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of 
marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for 
anybody who asks her.' 

* Nonsense ! a man does not imagine any such thing. But 
what is the meaning of this ? Harriet Smith refuse Robert 
Martin ! Madness, if it is so ; but I hope you are mistaken.' 

' I saw her answer ; nothing could be clearer.' 
' You saw her answer ! You wrote her answer too. Emma, 
this is your doing. You persuaded her to refuse him.' 

' And if I did (which, however, I am far from allowing), I 
should not feel that I had done wrong. Mr. Martin is a very 
respectable young man, but I cannot admit him to be Harriet's 
equal ; and am rather surprised, indeed, that he should have 
ventured to address her. By your account, he does seem to 
have had some scruples. It is a pity that they were ever got 
over.' 

SI 



EMMA 

' Not Harriet's equal ! ' exclaimed Mr, Knightley, loudly 
and warmly ; and with calmer asperity added, a few moments 
afterwards, ' No, he is not her equal, indeed, for he is as much 
her superior in sense as in situation. Emma, your infatuation 
about that girl blinds you. What are Harriet Smith's claims, 
either of birth, nature, or education, to any connection higher 
than Robert Martin ? She is the natural daughter of nobody 
knows whom, with probably no settled provision at all, and 
certainly no respectable relations. She is known only as 
parlour-boarder at a common school. She is not a sensible 
girl, nor a girl of any information. She has been taught 
nothing useful, and is too young and too simple to have 
acquired anything herself. At her age she can have no ex- 
perience ; and, with her little wit, is not very likely ever to have 
any that can avail her. She is pretty and she is good-tempered, 
and that is all. My only scruple in advising the match was 
on his account, as being beneath his deserts, and a bad connec- 
tion for him, I felt that, as to fortune, in all probability he 
might do much better ; and that, as to a rational companion 
or useful helpmate, he could not do worse. But I could not 
reason so to a man in love, and was willing to trust to there 
being no harm in her ; to her having that sort of disposition 
which, in good hands like his, might be easily led aright, and 
turn out very well. The advantage of the match I felt to be 
all on her side, and had not the smallest doubt (nor have I 
now) that there would be a general cry-out upon her extreme 
good luck. Even your satisfaction I made sure of It crossed 
my mind immediately that you would not regret your friend's 
leaving Highbury, for the sake of her being settled so well. I 
remember saying to myself, " Even Emma, with all her parti- 
ality for Harriet, will think this a good match." ' 

' I cannot help wondering at your knowing so little of 
Emma as to say any such thing. What ! think a farmer (and 
with all his sense and all his merit Mr. Martin is nothing 
more) a good match for my intimate friend ! Not regret her 
leaving Highbury for the sake of marrying a man whom I 
could never admit as an acquaintance of my own ! I wonder 
you should think it possible for me to have such feelings. I 
assure you mine are very different. I must think your state- 
ment by no means fair. You are not just to Harriet's claims. 
They would be estimated very differently by others as well as 

. 52 



EMMA 

myself; Mr. Martin may be the richest of the two, but he is 
undoubtedly her inferior as to rank in society. The sphere in 
which she moves is much above his. It would be a degra- 
dation.' 

* A degradation to illegitimacy and ignorance, to be married 
to a respectable, intelligent gentleman-farmer ? ' 

'As to the circumstances of her birth, though in a legal 
sense she may be called Nobody, it will not hold in common 
sense. She is not to pay for the offence of others, by being 
held below the level of those with whom she is brought up. 
There can scarcely be a doubt that her father is a gentleman 
— and a gentleman of fortune. Her allowance is very liberal ; 
nothing has ever been grudged for her improvement or comfort. 
That she is a gentleman's daughter is indubitable to me ; that 
she associates with gentlemen's daughters, no one, I apprehend, 
will deny. She is superior to Mr. Robert Martin.' 

' Whoever might be her parents,' said Mr. Knightley, ' who- 
ever may have had the charge of her, it does not appear to 
have been any part of their plan to introduce her into what 
you would call good society. After receiving a very indifferent 
education, she is left in Mrs. Goddard's hands to shift as she 
can ; — to move, in short, in Mrs. Goddard's line, to have Mrs. 
Goddard's acquaintance. Her friends evidently thought this 
good enough for her ; and it was good enough. She desired 
nothing better herself. Till you chose to turn her into a friend, 
her mind had no distaste for her own set, nor any ambition 
beyond it. She v/as as happy as possible with the Martins in 
the summer. She had no sense of superiority then. If she 
has it now, you have given it. You have been no friend to 
Harriet Smith, Emma. Robert Martin would never have 
proceeded so far, if he had not felt persuaded of her not being 
disinclined to him. I know him well. He has too much real 
feeling to address any woman on the haphazard of selfish 
passion. And as to conceit, he is the furthest from it of any 
man I know. Depend upon it, he had encouragement.' 

It was most convenient to Emma not to make a direct reply 
to this assertion ; she chose rather to take up her own line of 
the subject again. 

' You are a very warm friend to Mr. Martin ; but, as I said 
before, are unjust to Harriet. Harriet's claims to marry well 
are not so contemptible as you represent them. She is not a 

53 



EMMA 

clever girl, but she has better sense than you are aware of, and 
does not deserve to have her understanding spoken of so 
slightingly. Waiving that point, however, and supposing her 
to be, as you describe her, only pretty and good-natured, let 
me tell you that, in the degree she possesses them, they are 
not trivial recommendations to the world in general, for she is, 
in fact, a beautiful girl, and must be thought so by ninety-nine 
people out of a hundred ; and till it appears that men are 
much more philosophic on the subject of beauty than they are 
generally supposed ; till they do fall in love with well-informed 
minds instead of handsome faces, a girl, with such loveliness 
as Harriet, has a certainty of being admired and sought after, 
of having the power of choosing from among many, conse- 
quently a claim to be nice. Her good-nature, too, is not so 
very slight a claim, comprehending, as it does, real, thorough 
sweetness of temper and manner, a very humble opinion of 
herself, and a great readiness to be pleased with other people. 
I am very much mistaken if your sex in general would not 
think such beauty and such temper the highest claims a woman 
could possess.' 

' Upon my word, Emma, to hear you abusing the reason 
you have is almost enough to make me think so too. Better 
be without sense than misapply it as you do.' 

* To be sure,' cried she playfully. ' I know that is the 
feeling of you all. I know that such a girl as Harriet is 
exactly what every man delights in — what at once bewitches 
his senses and satisfies his judgment. Oh, Harriet may pick 
and choose. Were you, yourself, ever to marry, she is the 
very woman for you. And is she, at seventeen, just entering 
into life, just beginning to be known, to be wondered at because 
she does not accept the first offer she receives ? No — pray let 
her have time to look about her.' 

' I have always thought it a very foolish intimacy,' said 
Mr. Knightley presently, 'though I have kept my thoughts 
to myself ; but I now perceive that it will be a very unfortunate 
one for Harriet. You will puff her up with such ideas of her 
own beauty, and of what she has a claim to, that, in a little 
while, nobody within her reach will be good enough for her. 
Vanity working on a weak head produces every sort of mischief. 
Nothing so easy as for a young lady to raise her expectations 
too high. Miss Harriet Smith may not find offers of marriage 

54 



EMMA 

flow in so fast, though she is a very pretty girl. Men of sense, 
whatever you may choose to say, do not want silly wives. 
Men of family would not be very fond of connecting themselves 
with a girl of such obscurity, — and most prudent men would 
be afraid of the inconvenience and disgrace they might be 
involved in when the mystery of her parentage came to be 
revealed. Let her marry Robert Martin, and she is safe, 
respectable, and happy for ever ; but if you encourage her to 
expect to marry greatly, and teach her to be satisfied with 
nothing less than a man of consequence and large fortune, she 
may be a parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard's all the rest of her 
life, — or, at least (for Harriet Smith is a girl who will marry 
somebody or other), till she grow desperate, and is glad to 
catch at the old writing-master's son.' 

' We think so very differently on this point, Mr. Knightley, 
that there can be no use in canvassing it. We shall only be 
making each other more angry. But as to my letting her 
marry Robert Martin, it is impossible ; she has refused him, 
and so decidedly, I think, as must prevent any second applica- 
tion. She must abide by the evil of having refused him, what- 
ever it may be ; and as to the refusal itself, I will not pretend 
to say that I might not influence her a little ; but I assure you 
there was very little for me or for anybody to do. His appear- 
ance is so much against him, and his manner so bad, that if 
she ever were disposed to favour him, she is not now. I can 
imagine that before she had seen anybody superior she might 
tolerate him. He was the brother of her friends, and he took 
pains to please her ; and altogether, having seen nobody better 
(that must have been his great assistant), she might not, while 
she was at Abbey-Mill, find him disagreeable. But the case 
is altered now. She knows now what gentlemen are ; and 
nothing but a gentleman in education and manner has any 
chance with Harriet.' 

* Nonsense, arrant nonsense, as ever was talked ! ' cried 
Mr, Knightley. 'Robert Martin's manners have sense, sin- 
cerity, and good-humour to recommend them ; and his mind 
has more true gentility than Harriet Smith could understand.' 

Emma made no answer, and tried to look cheerfully uncon- 
cerned, but was really feeling uncomfortable, and wanting him 
very much to be gone ; she did not repent what she had done ; 
she still thought herself a better judge of such a point of female 

55 



EMMA 

right and refinement than he could be ; but yet she had a sort 
of habitual respect for his judgment in general, which made 
her dislike having it so loudly against her ; and to have him 
sitting just opposite to her in angry state was very disagreeable. 
Some minutes passed in this unpleasant silence, with only one 
attempt on Emma's side to talk of the weather, but he made 
no answer. 

He was thinking. The result of his thoughts appeared at 
last in these words — 

' Robert Martin has no great loss — if he can but think so ; 
and I hope it will not be long before he does. Your views 
for Harriet are best known to yourself; but as you make no 
secret of your love of match-making, it is fair to suppose that 
views, and plans, and projects you have : — and, as a friend, I 
shall just hint to you, that if Elton is the man, I think it will 
be all labour in vain.' 

Emma laughed and disclaimed. He continued — 

' Depend upon it, Elton will not do. Elton is a very good 
sort of man, and a very respectable vicar of Highbury, but 
not at all likely to make an imprudent match. He knows 
the value of a good income as well as anybody. Elton may 
talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally. He is as well 
acquainted with his own claims as you can be with Harriet's. 
He knows that he is a very handsome young man, and a great 
favourite wherever he goes ; and from his general way of 
talking in unreserved moments, when there are only men 
present, I am convinced that he does not mean to throw him- 
self away. I have heard him speak with great animation of 
a large family of young ladies that his sisters are intimate with, 
who have all twenty thousand pounds apiece.' 

* I am very much obliged to you,' said Emma, laughing 
again. ' If I had set my heart on Mr. Elton's marrying 
Harriet, it would have been very kind to open my eyes ; but 
at present I only want to keep Harriet to myself I have done 
with match-making, indeed. I could never hope to equal 
my own doings at Randalls. I shall leave off while I am 
well.' 

*Good morning to you,' said he, rising, and walking off 
abruptly. He was very much vexed. He felt the disappoint- 
ment of the young man, and was mortified to have been the 
means of promoting it, by the sanction he had given ; and the 

56 



EMMA 

part which he was persuaded Emma had taken in the affair 
was provoking him exceedingly. 

Emma remained in a state of vexation too ; but there was 
more indistinctness in the causes of hers than in his. She did 
not always feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely 
convinced that her opinions were right and her adversary's 
wrong, as Mr. Knightley. He walked off in more complete 
self-approbation than he left for her. She was not so materially 
cast down, however, but that a little time and the return of 
Harriet were very adequate restoratives. Harriet's staying 
away so long was beginning to make her uneasy. The 
possibility of the young man's coming to Mrs. Goddard's that 
morning, and meeting with Harriet, and pleading his own 
cause, gave alarming ideas. The dread of such a failure, 
after all, became the prominent uneasiness, and when Harriet 
appeared, and in very good spirits, and without having any 
such reason to give for her long absence, she felt a satisfaction 
which settled her with her own mind, and convinced her that, 
let Mr. Knightley think or say what he would, she had done 
nothing which woman's friendship and woman's feeling would 
not justify. 

He had frightened her a little about Mr. Elton ; but when 
she considered that Mr. Knightley could not have observed 
him as she had done, neither with the interest nor (she must 
be allowed to tell herself, in spite of Mr. Knightley 's pre- 
tensions) with the skill of such an observer on such a question 
as herself, that he had spoken it hastily and in anger, she was 
able to believe that he had rather said what he wished resent- 
fully to be true, than what he knew anything about. He 
certainly might have heard Mr. Elton speak with more unreserve 
than she had ever done, and Mr. Elton might not be of an 
imprudent, inconsiderate disposition as to money matters ; he 
might naturally be rather attentive than otherwise to them ; 
but then Mr. Knightley did not make due allowance for the 
influence of a strong passion at war with all interested motives. 
Mr. Knightley saw no such passion, and, of course, thought 
nothing of its effects ; but she saw too much of it to feel a 
doubt of its overcoming any hesitations that a reasonable 
prudence might originally suggest ; and more than a reasonable, 
becoming degree of prudence she was very sure did not belong 
to Mr. Elton. 

57 










Rode off in great spirits. 



I 



EMMA 

Harriet's cheerful look and manner established hers ; she 
came back, not to think of Mr. Martin, but to talk of Mr. 
Elton. Miss Nash had been telling her something, which she 
repeated immediately with great delight. Mr. Perry had been 
to Mrs. Goddard's to attend a sick child, and Miss Nash had 
seen him ; and he had told Miss Nash, that as he was coming 
back yesterday from Clayton Park he had met Mr. Elton, and 
found, to his great surprise, that Mr. Elton was actually on 
his road to London, and not meaning to return till the morrow, 
though it was the whist-club night, which he had been never 
known to miss before ; and Mr. Perry had remonstrated with 
him about it, and told him how shabby it was in him, their 
best player, to absent himself, and tried very much to persuade 
him to put off his journey only one day ; but it would not do ; 
Mr. Elton had been determined to go on, and had said, in a 
very particular Vf2iy indeed, that he was going on business which 
he would not put off for any inducement in the world ; and 
something about a very enviable commission, and being the 
bearer of something exceedingly precious. Mr. Perry could 
not quite understand him, but he was very sure there must be 
a lady in the case, and he told him so ; and Mr. Elton only 
looked very conscious and smiling, and rode off in great spirits. 
Miss Nash had told her all this, and had talked a great deal 
more about Mr. Elton ; and said, looking so very significantly 
at her, ' that she did not pretend to understand what his 
business might be, but she only knew that any woman whom 
Mr. Elton could prefer she should think the luckiest woman in 
the world ; for, beyond a doubt, Mr. Elton had not his equal 
for beauty or agreeableness.' 



CHAPTER IX 

Mr. Kniohtley might quarrel with her, but Emma could 
not quarrel with herself. He was so much displeased that 
it was longer than usual before he came to Hartfield again ; 
and when they did meet, his grave looks showed that she was 
not forgiven. She was sorry, but could not repent. On the 
contrary, her plans and proceedings were more and more 

59 



EMMA 

justified and endeared to her by the general appearances of 
the next few days. 

The picture, elegantly framed, came safely to hand soon 
after Mr. Elton's return, and being hung over the mantel- 
piece of the common sitting-room, he got up to look at it, and 
sighed out his half sentences of admiration just as he ought ; 
and as for Harriet's feelings, they were visibly forming them- 
selves into as strong and steady an attachment as her youth 
and sort of mind admitted. Emma was soon perfectly satisfied 
of Mr. Martin's being no otherwise remembered than as he 
furnished a contrast with Mr. Elton, of the utmost advantage 
to the latter. 

Her views of improving her little friend's mind, by a great 
deal of useful reading and conversation, had never yet led to 
more than a few first chapters, and the intention of going on 
to-morrow. It was much easier to chat than to study ; much 
pleasanter to let her imagination range and work at Harriet's 
fortune than to be labouring to enlarge her comprehension, or 
exercise it on sober facts ; and the only literary pursuit which 
engaged Harriet at present, the only mental provision she was 
making for the evening of life, was the collecting and tran- 
scribing all the riddles of every sort that she could meet with, 
into a thin quarto of hot-pressed paper, made up by her friend, 
and ornamented with ciphers and trophies. 

In this age of literature, such collections on a very grand 
scale are not uncommon. Miss Nash, head teacher at Mrs. 
Goddard's, had written out at least three hundred ; and Harriet, 
who had taken the first hint of it from her, hoped, with Miss 
Woodhouse's help, to get a great many more. Emma assisted 
with her invention, memory, and taste ; and as Harriet wrote 
a very pretty hand, it was likely to be an arrangement of the 
first order, in form as well as quantity. 

Mr. Woodhouse was almost as much interested in the busi- 
ness as the girls, and tried very often to recollect some- 
thing worth their putting in. ' So many clever riddles as there 
used to be when he was young — he wondered he could not 
remember them ; but he hoped he should in time.' And it 
always ended in ' Kitty, a fair but frozen maid.' 

His good friend Perry, too, whom he had spoken to on the 
subject, did not at present recollect anything of the riddle 
kind ; but he had desired Perry to be upon the watch, and as 

60 



EMMA 

he went about so much, something, he thought, might come 
from that quarter. 

It was by no means his daughter's wish that the intellects 
of Highbury in general should be put under requisition. Mr. 
Elton was the only one whose assistance she asked. He was 
invited to contribute any really good enigmas, charades, or 
conundrums that he might recollect ; and she had the pleasure 
of seeing him most intently at work with his recollections ; and 
at the same time, as she could perceive, most earnestly careful 
that nothing ungallant, nothing that did not breathe a compli- 
ment to the sex, should pass his lips. They owed to him 
their two or three politest puzzles ; and the joy and exultation 
with which at last he recalled, and rather sentimentally recited, 
that well-known charade — 

My first doth affliction denote, 

Which my second is destin'd to feel ; 

And my whole is the best antidote 
That affliction to soften and heal— 

made her quite sorry to acknowledge that they had transcribed 
it some pages ago already. 

< Why will not you write one yourself for us, Mr. Elton ? ' 
said she ; ' that is the only security for its freshness ; and 
nothing could be easier to you.' 

* Oh no ; he had never written, hardly ever, anything of 
the kind in his life. The stupidest fellow ! He was afraid 
not even Miss Woodhouse,' — he stopped a moment — ' or Miss 
Smith could inspire him.' 

The very next day, however, produced some proof of inspira- 
tion. He called for a few moments, just to leave a piece of 
paper on the table containing, as he said, a charade which a 
friend of his had addressed to a young lady, the object of his 
admiration ; but which, from his manner, Emma was immedi- 
ately convinced must be his own. 

' I do not offer it for Miss Smith's collection,' said he. 
* Being my friend's, I have no right to expose it in any degree 
to the public eye, but perhaps you may not dislike looking 
at it.' 

This speech was more to Emma than to Harriet, which 
Emma could understand. There was deep consciousness 
about him, and he found it easier to meet her eye than her 

6i 



EMMA 

friend's. He was gone the next moment: — after another 
moment's pause — 

' Take it,' — said Emma, smiHng, and pushing the paper 
towards Harriet, — ' it is for you. Take your own.' 

But Harriet was in a tremor, and could not touch it ; and 
Emma, never loth to be first, was obliged to examine it herself. 

To Miss 



CHARADE 

My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings, 
Lords of the earth ! their luxury and ease. 

Another view of man, my second brings ; 
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas ! 

But, ah ! united, what reverse we have ! 

Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown ; 
Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave, 

And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone. 

Thy ready wit the word will soon supply, 
May its approval beam in that soft eye ! 

She cast her eye over it, pondered, caught the meaning, 
read it through again to be quite certain, and quite mistress 
of the lines, and then passing it to Harriet, sat happily smiling, 
and saying to herself, while Harriet was puzzling over the paper 
in all the confusion of hope and dulness, * Very well, Mr. Elton, 
very well, indeed. I have read worse charades. Courtship — a 
very good hint. I give you credit for it. This is feeling your 
way. This is saying very plainly — " Pray, Miss Smith, give 
me leave to pay my addresses to you. Approve my charade 
and my intentions in the same glance." 

May its approval beam in that soft eye ! 

Harriet exactly. Soft is the very word for her eye — of all 
epithets, the justest that could be given. 

Thy ready wit the word will soon supply. 

Humph — Harriet's ready wit ! All the better. A man must 
be very much in love, indeed, to describe her so. Ah ! Mr. 
Knightley, I wish you had the benefit of this ; I think this 
would convince you. For once in your life you would be obliged 

62 



EMMA 

to own yourself mistaken. An excellent charade indeed — and 
very much to the purpose. Things must come to a crisis soon 
now.' 

She was obliged to break off from these very pleasant 
observations, which were otherwise of a sort to run into great 
length, by the eagerness of Harriet's wondering questions. 

' What can it be, Miss Woodhouse } — what can it be ? I 
have not an idea — I cannot guess it in the least. What can 
it possibly be ? Do try to find it out, Miss Woodhouse. Do 
help me. I never saw anything so hard. Is it kingdom ? I 
wonder who the friend was — and who could be the young lady. 
Do you think it is a good one ? Can it be woman ? 

And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone. 

Can it be Neptune ? 

Behold him there, the monarch of the seas ! 

Or a trident ? or a mermaid ? or a shark ? Oh no ; shark is 
only one syllable. It must be very clever, or he would not 
have brought it. Oh, Miss Woodhouse, do you think we shall 
ever find it out ? ' 

' Mermaids and sharks ! Nonsense ! My dear Harriet, 
what are you thinking of? Where would be the use of his 
bringing us a charade made by a friend upon a mermaid or a 
shark ? Give me the paper, and listen. 

" For Miss ," read Miss Smith. 

My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings, 
Lords of the earth ! their luxury and ease. 

That is court. 

Another view of man, my second brings ; 
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas ! 

That is ship^ — plain as he can be. — Now for the cream. 

But, ah ! united [courtship^ you know), what reverse we have ! 

Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown ; 
Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave, 

And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone. 

A very proper compliment ! — and then follows the application, 
which I think, my dear Harriet, you cannot find much difficulty 

63 



EMMA 

in comprehending. Read it in comfort to yourself. There 
can be no doubt of its being written for you and to you.' 

Harriet could not long resist so delightful a persuasion. 
She read the concluding lines, and was all flutter and happi- 
ness. She could not speak. But she was not wanted to 
speak. It was enough for her to feel. Emma spoke for her. 

' There is so pointed and so particular a meaning in this 
compliment,' said she, ' that I cannot have a moment's doubt 
as to Mr. Elton's intentions. You are his object, — and you 
will soon receive the completest proof of it. I thought it must 
be so. I thought I could not be so deceived ; but now it is 
clear : the state of his mind is as clear and decided as my 
wishes on the subject have been ever since I knew you. Yes, 
Harriet, just so long have I been wanting the very circum- 
stance to happen which has happened. I could never tell 
whether an attachment between you and Mr. Elton were most 
desirable or most natural. Its probability and its eligibility 
have really so equalled each other ! I am very happy. I 
congratulate you, my dear Harriet, with all my heart. This 
is an attachment which a woman may well feel pride in creat- 
ing. This is a connection which offers nothing but good. It 
will give you everything that you want, — consideration, inde- 
pendence, a proper home, — it will fix you in the centre of all 
your real friends, close to Hartfield and to me, and confirm 
our intimacy for ever. This, Harriet, is an alliance which can 
never raise a blush in either of us.' 

' Dear Miss Woodhouse,' and ' Dear Miss Woodhouse,' was 
all that Harriet, with many tender embraces, could articulate 
at first ; but when they did arrive at something more like 
conversation, it was sufficiently clear to her friend that she 
saw, felt, anticipated, and remembered just as she ought. Mr. 
Elton's superiority had very ample acknowledgment. 

'Whatever you say is always right,' cried Harriet, 'and 
therefore, I suppose, and believe, and hope it must be so ; but 
otherwise I could not have imagined it. It is so much beyond 
anything I deserve. Mr. Elton, who might marry anybody ! 
There cannot be two opinions about him. He is so very 

superior. Only think of those sweet verses — " To Miss " 

Dear me, how clever ! Could it really be meant for me ? ' 

' I cannot make a question, or listen to a question about 
that. It is a certainty. Receive it on my judgment. It is 

64 



EMMA 

a sort of prologue to the play, a motto to the chapter ; and 
will be soon followed by matter-of-fact prose.' 

' It is a sort of thing which nobody could have expected. 
I am sure, a month ago, I had no more idea myself! The 
strangest things do take place ! ' 

' When Miss Smiths and Mr. Eltons get acquainted — they 
do indeed — and really it is strange ; it is out of the common 
course that what is so evidently, so palpably desirable — what 
courts the pre-arrangement of other people — should so im- 
mediately shape itself into the proper form. You and Mr. 
Elton are by situation called together ; you belong to one 
another by every circumstance of your respective homes. 
Your marrying will be equal to the match at Randalls. There 
does seem to be a something in the air of Hartfield which 
gives love exactly the right direction, and sends it into the 
very channel where it ought to flow. 

The course of true love never did run smooth — 
A Hartfield edition of Shakspeare would have a long note on 
that passage.' 

'That Mr. Elton should really be in love with me, — me, 
of all people, who did not know him, to speak to him, at 
Michaelmas ! And he, the very handsomest man that ever 
was, and a man that everybody looks up to, quite like Mr. 
Knightley ! His company so sought after, that everybody says 
he need not eat a single meal by himself if he does not choose 
it ; that he has more invitations than there are days in the 
week. And so excellent in the church ! Miss Nash has put 
down all the texts he has ever preached from since he came 
to Highbury. Dear me ! When I look back to the first time 
I saw him ! How little did I think ! The two Abbotts and 
I ran into the front room and peeped through the blind when 
we heard he was going by, and Miss Nash came and scolded 
us away, and stayed to look through herself; however, she 
called me back presently, and let me look too, which was very 
good-natured. And how beautiful we thought he looked ! 
He was arm in arm with Mr. Cole.' 

* This is an alliance which, whoever — whatever your friends 
may be, must be agreeable to them, provided at least they 
have common sense ; and we are not to be addressing our 
conduct to fools. If they are anxious to see you happily 
married, here is a man whose amiable character gives every 

F 65 



EMMA 

assurance of it ; if they wish to have you settled in the same 
country and circle which they have chosen to place you in, 
here it will be accomplished ; and if their only object is that 
you should, in the common phrase, be well married, here is 
the comfortable fortune, the respectable establishment, the rise 
in the world, which must satisfy them.' 

' Yes, very true. How nicely you talk ! I love to hear 
you. You understand everything. You and Mr. Elton are 
one as clever as the other. This charade ! If I had studied 
a twelvemonth, I could never have made anything like it.' 

* I thought he meant to try his skill, by his manner of 
declining it yesterday.' 

' I do think it is, without exception, the best charade I ever 
read.' 

' I never read one more to the purpose, certainly.' 

'It is as long again as almost all we have had before.' 

' I do not consider its length as particularly in its favour. 
Such things in general cannot be too short.' 

Harriet was too intent on the lines to hear. The most 
satisfactory comparisons were rising in her mind. 

' It is one thing,' said she, presently, her cheeks in a glow, 
' to have very good sense in a common way, like everybody 
else, and if there is anything to say, to sit down and write a 
letter, and say just what you must, in a short way ; and 
another, to write verses and charades like this.' 

Emma could not have desired a more spirited rejection of 
Mr. Martin's prose. 

' Such sweet lines ! ' continued Harriet — ' these two last ! 
But how shall I ever be able to return the paper, or say I 
have found it out ? Oh, Miss Woodhouse, what can we do 
about that ! ' 

' Leave it to me. You do nothing. He will be here this 
evening, I daresay, and then I will give it him back, and 
some nonsense or other will pass between us, and you shall 
not be committed. Your soft eyes shall choose their own 
time for beaming. Trust to me.' 

' Oh, Miss Woodhouse, what a pity that I must not write 
this beautiful charade into my book ! I am sure I have not 
got one half so good.' 

* Leave out the two last lines, and there is no reason why 
you should not write it into your book.' 

66 



EMMA 

' Oh, but those two lines are ' — ' The best of all. 

Granted ; — for private enjoyment ; and for private enjoyment 
keep them. They are not at all the less written, you know, 
because you divide them. The couplet does not cease to 
be, nor does its meaning change. But take it away, and 
all appropriation ceases, and a very pretty, gallant charade 
remains, fit for any collection. Depend upon it, he would not 
like to have his charade slighted much better than his passion. 
A poet in love must be encouraged in both capacities, or 
neither. Give me the book ; I will write it down, and then 
there can be no possible reflection on you.' 

Harriet submitted, though her mind could hardly separate 
the parts, so as to feel quite sure that her friend were not 
writing down a declaration of love. It seemed too precious an 
offering for any degree of publicity. 

' I shall never let that book go out of my own hands,' said 
she. 

' Very well,' replied Emma, ' a most natural feeling, and the 
longer it lasts, the better I shall be pleased. But here is my 
father coming ; you will not object to my reading the charade 
to him. It will be giving him so much pleasure. He loves 
anything of the sort, and especially anything that pays woman 
a compliment. He has the tenderest spirit of gallantry towards 
us all. You must let me read it to him.' 

Harriet looked grave. 
, ' My dear Harriet, you must not refine too much upon this 
charade. You will betray your feelings improperly, if you are 
too conscious and too quick, and appear to affix more meaning, 
or even quite all the meaning which may be affixed to it. Do 
not be overpowered by such a little tribute of admiration. If 
he had been anxious for secrecy, he would not have left the 
paper while I was by ; but he rather pushed it towards me than 
towards you. Do not let us be too solemn on the business. 
He has encouragement enough to proceed, without our sighing 
out our souls over this charade.' 

' Oh no ; I hope I shall not be ridiculous about it. Do as 
you please.' 

Mr. Woodhouse came in, and very soon led to the subject 
again, by the recurrence of his very frequent inquiry of ' Well, 
my dears, how does your book go on ? Have you got anything 
fresh ? ' 

67 



EMMA 

* Yes, papa ; we have something to read to you, something 
quite fresh. A piece of paper was found on the table this 
morning — (dropped, we suppose, by a fairy) — containing a very 
pretty charade, and we have just copied it in.' 

She read it to him, just as he hked to have anything read, 
slowly and distinctly, and two or three times over, with ex- 
planations of every part as she proceeded ; and he was very 
much pleased, and, as she had foreseen, especially struck with 
the complimentary conclusion. 

' Ay, that's very just, indeed ; that's very properly said. 
Very true. "Woman, lovely woman." It is such a pretty 
charade, my dear, that I can easily guess what fairy brought 
it. Nobody could have written so prettily but you, Emma. 

Emma only nodded, and smiled. After a little thinking, 
and a very tender sigh, he added — 

'Ah, it is no difficulty to see who you take after Your 
dear mother was so clever at all those things. If I had but 
her memory. But I can remember nothing ; not even that 
particular riddle which you have heard me mention ; I can 
only recollect the first stanza ; and there are several : — 

Kitty, a fair but frozen maid, 

Kindled a flame I yet deplore ; 
The hoodwink'd boy I called to aid, 
Though of his near approach afraid, 

So fatal to my suit before. 

And that is all that I can recollect of it ; but it is very clever 
all the way through. But I think, my dear, you said you had 
got it.' 

' Yes, papa, it is written out in our second page. We 
copied it from the Elegant Extracts. It was Garrick's, you 
know.' 

' Ay, very true : — I wish I could recollect more of it. 
Kitty, a fair but frozen maid. 

The name makes me think of poor Isabella ; for she was very 
near being christened Catherine after her grandmamma. I 
hope we shall have her here next week. Have you thought, 
my dear, where you shall put her, and what room there will be 
for the children ? ' 

' Oh yes — she will have her own room, of course ; the 
room she always has ; — and there is the nursery for the 

68 



EMMA 

children, — just as usual, you know. Why should there be any 
change ? ' 

' I do not know, my dear — but it is so long since she was 
here — not since last Easter, and then only for a few days. 
Mr. John Knightle/s being a lawyer is very inconvenient. 
Poor Isabella ! — she is sadly taken away from us all ; — and how 
sorry she will be when she comes not to see Miss Taylor here.' 

' She will not be surprised, papa, at least.' 

' I do not know, my dear. I am sure I was very much 
surprised when I first heard she was going to be married.' 

' We must ask Mr. and Mrs. Weston to dine with us, while 
Isabella is here.' 

' Yes, my dear, if there is time. But — (in a very depressed 
tone) — she is coming for only one week. There will not be 
time for anything.' 

'It is unfortunate that they cannot stay longer, — but it 
seems a case of necessity. Mr. John Knightley must be in 
town again on the 28th; and we ought to be thankful, papa, 
that we are to have the whole of the time they can give to the 
country, that two or three days are not to be taken out for the 
Abbey. Mr. Knightley promises to give up his claim this 
Christmas, though you know it is longer since they were with 
him than with us.' 

' It would be very hard, indeed, my dear, if poor Isabella 
were to be anywhere but at Hartfield.' 

Mr. Woodhouse could never allow for Mr. Knightley's 
claims on his brother, or anybody's claims on Isabella, except 
his own. He sat musing a little while, and then said — 

' But I do not see why poor Isabella should be obliged to 
go back so soon, though he does. I think, Emma, I shall try 
and persuade her to stay longer with us. She and the children 
might stay very well.' 

' Ah, papa, that is what you never have been able to accom- 
plish, and I do not think you ever will. Isabella cannot bear 
to stay behind her husband.' 

This was too true for contradiction. Unwelcome as it 
was, Mr. Woodhouse could only give a submissive sigh ; and as 
Emma saw his spirits affected by the idea of his daughter's 
attachment to her husband, she immediately led to such a 
branch of the subject as must raise them. 

' Harriet must give us as much of her company as she can 

69 



EMMA 

while my brother and sister are here. I am sure she will be 
pleased with the children. We are very proud of the children, 
are not we, papa ? I wonder which she will think the hand- 
somest, Henry or John ? ' 

' Ay, I wonder which she will. Poor little dears, how glad 
they will be to come. They are very fond of being at Hart- 
field, Harriet.' 

' I daresay they are, sir. I am sure I do not know who is not.' 

' Henry is a fine boy, but John is very like his mamma. 
Henry is the eldest ; he was named after me, not after his 
father. John, the second, is named after his father. Some 
people are surprised, I believe, that the eldest was not, but 
Isabella would have him called Henry, which I thought very 
pretty of her. And he is a very clever boy, indeed. They are 
all remarkably clever ; and they have so many pretty ways. 
They will come and stand by my chair and say, " Grandpapa, 
can you give me a bit of string ? " and once Henry asked me 
for a knife, but I told him knives were only made for grand- 
papas. I think their father is too rough with them very often.' 

' He appears rough to you,' said Emma, ' because you are 
so very gentle yourself ; but if you could compare him with other 
papas, you would not think him rough. He wishes his boys 
to be active and hardy ; and if they misbehave, can give them 
a sharp word now and then ; but he is an affectionate father — 
certainly Mr. John Knightley is an affectionate father. The 
children are all fond of him.' 

* And then their uncle comes in, and tosses them up to the 
ceiling in a very frightful way.' 

' But they like it, papa ; there is nothing they like so much. 
It is such enjoyment to them, that if their uncle did not lay 
down the rule of their taking turns, which ever began would 
never give way to the other.' 

' Well, I cannot understand it.' 

' That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world 
cannot understand the pleasures of the other.' 

Later in the morning, and just as the girls were going to 
separate in preparation for the regular four o'clock dinner, the 
hero of this inimitable charade walked in again. Harriet 
turned away ; but Emma could receive him with the usual 
smile, and her quick eye soon discerned in his the conscious- 
ness of having made a push — of having thrown a die ; and 

70 




Tosses them up to the ceiling' 



EMMA 

she imagined he was come to see how it might turn up. His 
ostensible reason, however, was to ask whether Mr. Wood- 
house's party could be made up in the evening without him, 
or whether he should be in the smallest degree necessary at 
Hartfield. If he were, everything else must give way ; but 
otherwise his friend Cole had been saying so much about his 
dining with him — had made such a point of it — that he had 
promised him conditionally to come. 

Emma thanked him, but could not allow of his disappointing 
his friend on their account ; her father was sure of his rubber. 
He re-urged — she re-declined ; and he seemed then about to 
make his bow, when, taking the paper from the table, she 
returned it. 

' Oh, here is the charade you were so obliging as to leave 
with us ; thank you for the sight of it. We admired it so 
much that I have ventured to write it into Miss Smith's 
collection. Your friend will not take it amiss, I hope. Of 
course, I have not transcribed beyond the eight first lines.' 

Mr. Elton certainly did not very well know what to say. 
He looked rather doubtingly — rather confused ; said some- 
thing about ' honour ; ' — glanced at Emma and at Harriet, 
and then seeing the book open on the table, took it up, and 
examined it very attentively. With the view of passing off an 
awkward moment, Emma smilingly said — 

* You must take my apologies to your friend ; but so good 
a charade must not be confined to one or two. He may be 
sure of every woman's approbation while he writes with such 
gallantry.' 

' I have no hesitation in saying,' replied Mr. Elton, though 
hesitating a good deal while he spoke, — ' I have no hesitation 
in saying — at least if my friend feels at all as / do — I have 
not the smallest doubt that, could he see his little effusion 
honoured as / see it (looking at the book again, and replacing 
it on the table), he would consider it as the proudest moment 
of his life.' 

After this speech he was gone as soon as possible. Emma 
could not think it too soon ; for with all his good and agreeable 
qualities there was a sort of parade in his speeches which was 
very apt to incline her to laugh. She ran away to indulge the 
incHnation, leaving the tender and the sublime of pleasure to 
Harriet's share. 

72 



EMMA 



CHAPTER X 



Though now the middle of December, there had yet been no 
weather to prevent the young ladies from tolerably regular 
exercise ; and on the morrow, Emma had a charitable visit to 
pay to a poor sick family who lived a little way out of 
Highbury. 

Their road to this detached cottage was down Vicarage 
Lane, a lane leading at right angles from the broad, though 
irregular, main street of the place ; and, as may be inferred, 
containing the blessed abode of Mr. Elton. A few inferior 
dwellings were first to be passed, and then, about a quarter of 
a mile down the lane, rose the vicarage ; an old and not very 
good house, almost as close to the road as it could be. It 
had no advantage of situation ; but had been very much 
smartened up by the present proprietor ; and, such as it was, 
there could be no possibility of the two friends passing it with- 
out a slackened pace and observing eyes. Emma's remark 
was — 

' There it is. There go you and your riddle-book one of 
these days.' 

Harriet's was — 

' Oh, what a sweet house ! How yery beautiful ! There 
are the yellow curtains that Miss Nash admires so much.' 

' I do not often walk this way now^^ said Emma, as they 
proceeded, 'but theji there will be an inducement, and I shall 
gradually get intimately acquainted with all the hedges, gates, 
pools, and pollards of this part of Highbury.' 

Harriet, she found, had never in her life been within-side 
the vicarage ; and her curiosity to see it was so extreme that, 
considering exteriors and probabilities, Emma could only class 
it, as a proof of love, with Mr. Elton's seeing ready wit in her. 

' I wish we could contrive it,' said she ; ' but I cannot 
think of any tolerable pretence for going in ; — no servant that 
I want to inquire about of his housekeeper — no message from 
my father.' 

She pondered, but could think of nothing. After a mutual 
silence of some minutes, Harriet thus began again — 

' I do so wonder. Miss Woodhouse, that you should not be 
married, or going to be married — so charming as you are.' 

73 



EMMA 

Emma laughed, and replied — 

' My being charming, Harriet, is not quite enough to 
induce me to marry ; I must find other people charming — one 
other person at least. And I am not only not going to be 
married at present, but have very little intention of ever 
marrying at all.' 

' Ah, so you say ; but I cannot believe it.' 

' I must see somebody very superior to any one I have 
?een yet to be tempted ; Mr. Elton, you know (recollecting 
herself), is out of- the question ; and I do not wish to see any 
such person. I would rather not be tempted. I cannot 
really change for the better. If I were to marry, I must 
expect to repent it.' 

' Dear me ! — it is so odd to hear a woman talk so ! ' 

' I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry. 
Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing ; 
but I never have been in love ; it is not my way, or my nature ; 
and I do not think I ever shall. And, without love, I am 
sure I should be a fool to change such a situation as mine. 
Fortune I do not want ; employment I do not want ; con- 
sequence I do not want ; I believe few married women are 
half as much mistress of their husband's house as I am of 
Hartfield ; and never, never could I expect to be so truly 
beloved and important \ so always first and always right in any 
man's eyes as I am in my father's.' 

' But then, to be an old maid at last, like Miss Bates ! ' 

'That is as formidable an image as you could present, 
Harriet ; and if I thought I should ever be like Miss Bates — 
so silly, so satisfied, so smiling, so prosing, so undistinguish- 
ing and unfastidious, and so apt to tell everything relative 
to everybody about me, I would marry to-morrow. But be- 
tween us^ I am convinced there never can be any likeness, 
except in being unmarried.' 

' But still, you will be an old maid — and that's so 
dreadful ! ' 

' Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid ; 
and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a 
generous public. A single woman with a very narrow income 
must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid — the proper sport 
of boys and girls ; but a single woman of good fortune is 
always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as 

74 



EMMA 

anybody else. And the distinction is not quite so much 
against the candour and common-sense of the world as appears 
at first ; for a very narrow income has a tendency to contract 
the mind, and sour the temper. Those who can barely live, 
and who live perforce in a very small, and generally very 
inferior, society, may well be illiberal and cross. This does 
not apply, however, to Miss Bates ; she is only too good- 
natured and too silly to suit me ; but in general, she is very 
much to the taste of everybody, though single and though 
poor. Poverty certainly has not contracted her mind. I 
really believe, if she had only a shilling in the world, she 
would be very likely to give away sixpence of it ; and nobody 
is afraid of her ; that is a great charm.' 

' Dear me ! but what shall you do ? How shall you employ 
yourself when you grow old ? ' 

< If I know myself, Harriet, mine is an active, busy mind, 
with a great many independent resources ; and I do not 
perceive why I should be more in want of employment at forty 
or fifty than at one-and-twenty. Woman's usual occupations of 
eye, and hand, and mind, will be as open to me then as they 
are now, or with no important variation. If I draw less, I 
shall read more ; if I give up music, I shall take to carpet- 
work. And as for objects of interest, objects for the affections, 
which is, in truth, the great point of inferiority, the want of 
which is really the great evil to be avoided in nof marrying, 
I shall be very well off, with all the children of a sister I love 
so much to care about. There will be enough of them, in all 
probability, to supply every sort of sensation that declining 
life can need. There will be enough for every hope and every 
fear ; and though my attachment to none can equal that of a 
parent, it suits my ideas of comfort better than what is warmer 
and blinder. My nephews and nieces : I shall often have a 
niece with me.' 

* Do you know Miss Bates's niece ? That is, I know you 
must have seen her a hundred times — but are you acquainted ?' 

' Oh yes ; we are always forced to be acquainted whenever 
she comes to Highbury. By the bye, f^at is almost enough 
to put one out of conceit with a niece. Heaven forbid, at 
least, that I should ever bore people half so much about all 
the Knightleys together as she does about Jane Fairfax. 
One is sick of the very name of Jane Fairfax. Every letter 

75 



EMMA 

from her is read forty times over : her compliments to all 
friends go round and round again ; and if she does but send 
her aunt the pattern of a stomacher, or knit a pair of 
garters for her grandmother, one hears of nothing else for 
a month. I wish Jane Fairfax very well ; but she tires me 
to death.' 

They were now approaching the cottage, and all idle 
topics were superseded. Emma was very compassionate ; 
and the distresses of the poor were as sure of relief from 
her personal attention and kindness, her counsel and her 
patience, as from her purse. She understood their ways, 
could allow for their ignorance and their temptations, had no 
romantic expectations of extraordinary virtue from those for 
whom education had done so little, entered into their troubles 
with ready sympathy, and always gave her assistance with 
as much intelligence as good -will. In the present instance 
it was sickness and poverty together which she came to visit ; 
and after remaining there as long as she could give comfort 
or advice, she quitted the cottage with such an impression 
of the scene as made her say to Harriet, as they walked 
away — 

'These are the sights, Harriet, to do one good. How 
trifling they make everything else appear ! I feel now as if 
I could think of nothing but these poor creatures all the 
rest of the day ; and yet who can say how soon it may all 
vanish from my mind .'* ' 

' Very true,' said Harriet. ' Poor creatures ! one can think 
of nothing else 

'And really, I do not think the impression will soon be 
over,' said Emma, as she crossed the low hedge and tottering 
footstep which ended the narrow, slippery path through the 
cottage garden, and brought them into the lane again. ' I 
do not think it will,' stopping to look once more at all the 
outward wretchedness of the place, and recall the still greater 
within. 

' Oh dear, no,' said her companion. 

They walked on. The lane made a slight bend ; and when 
that bend was passed, Mr. Elton was immediately in sight, 
and so near as to give Emma time only to say further — 

' Ah, Harriet, here comes a very sudden trial of our stability 
in good thoughts. Well (smiling), I hope it may be allowed 

76 



EMMA 

that if compassion has produced exertion and relief to the 
sufferers, it has done all that is truly important. If we feel 
for the wretched, enough to do all we can for them, the rest 
is empty sympathy, only distressing to ourselves.' 

Harriet could just answer, ' Oh dear, yes,' before the 
gentleman joined them. The wants and sufferings of the 
poor family, however, were the first subject on meeting. 
He had been going to call on them. His visit he would now 
defer ; but they had a very interesting parley about what could 
be done and should be done. Mr. Elton then turned back to 
accompany them. 

'To fall in with each other on such an errand as this,' 
thought Emma ; ' to meet in a charitable scheme ; this will 
bring a great increase of love on each side. I should not 
wonder if it were to bring on the declaration. It must, if I 
were not here. I wish I were anywhere else.' 

Anxious to separate herself from them as far as she could, 
she soon afterwards took possession of a narrow footpath, 
a little raised on one side of the lane, leaving them together 
in the main road. But she had not been there two minutes 
when she found that Harriet's habits of dependence and 
imitation were bringing her up too, and that, in short, they 
would both be soon after her. This would not do ; she 
immediately stopped, under pretence of having some alteration 
to make in the lacing of her half-boot, and stooping down 
in complete occupation of the footpath, begged them to have 
the goodness to walk on, and she would follow in half a 
minute. They did as they were desired ; and by the time 
she judged it reasonable to have done with her boot, she 
had the comfort of further delay in her power, being over- 
taken by a child from the cottage, setting out, according to 
orders, with her pitcher, to fetch broth from Hartfield. To 
walk by the side of this child, and talk to and question her, 
was the most natural thing in the world, or would have been 
the most natural, had she been acting just then without 
design ; and by this means the others were still able to keep 
ahead without any obligation of waiting for her. She gained 
on them, however, involuntarily ; the child's pace was quick, 
and theirs rather slow ; and she was the more concerned at 
it, from their being evidently in a conversation which interested 
them. Mr. Elton was speaking with animation, Harriet 

77 



EMMA 

listening with a very pleased attention ; and Emma, having 
sent the child on, was beginning to think how she might draw 
back a little more, when they both looked around, and she 
was obliged to join them. 

Mr. Elton was still talking, still engaged in some interesting 
detail ; and Emma experienced some disappointment when 
she found that he was only giving his fair companion an 
account of the yesterday's party at his friend Cole's, and 
that she was come in herself for the Stilton cheese, and the 
north Wiltshire, the butter, the celery, the beetroot, and all 
the dessert. 

' This would soon have led to something better, of course,' 
was her consoling reflection ; ' anything interests between 
those who love; and anything will serve as introduction to 
what is near the heart. If I could but have kept longer 
away.' 

They now walked on together quietly till within view of 
the vicarage pales, when a sudden resolution, of at least 
getting Harriet into the house, made her again find some- 
thing very much amiss about her boot, and fall behind to 
arrange it once more. She then broke the lace off short, and 
dexterously throwing it into a ditch, was presently obliged to 
entreat them to stop, and acknowledge her inability to put 
herself to rights so as to be able to walk home in tolerable 
comfort. 

' Part of my lace is gone,' said she, * and I do not know 
how I am to contrive. I really am a most troublesome com- 
panion to you both, but I hope I am not often so ill-equipped. 
Mr. Elton, I must beg leave to stop at your house, and ask 
your housekeeper for a bit of riband or string, or anything 
just to keep my boot on.' 

Mr. Elton looked all happiness at this proposition ; and 
nothing could exceed his alertness and attention in conducting 
them into his house, and endeavouring to make everything 
appear to advantage. The room they were taken into was 
the one he chiefly occupied, and looking forwards ; behind 
it was another with which it immediately communicated; 
the door between them was open, and Emma passed into it 
with the housekeeper, to receive her assistance in the most 
comfortable manner. She was obliged to leave the door 
ajar as she found it ; but she fully intended that Mr. Elton 

78 



EMMA 

should close it. It was not closed, however — it still remained 
ajar ; but by engaging the housekeeper in incessant conver- 
sation, she hoped to make it practicable for him to choose 
his own subject in the adjoining room. For ten minutes she 
could hear nothing but herself. It could be protracted no 
longer. She was then obliged to be finished, and make her 
appearance. 

The lovers were standing together at one of the windows. 
It had a most favourable aspect ; and, for half a minute, 
Emma felt the glory of having schemed successfully. But it 
would not do ; he had not come to the point. He had been 
most agreeable, most delightful ; he had told Harriet that he 
had seen them go by, and had purposely followed them ; 
other little gallantries and allusions had been dropped, but 
nothing serious. 

' Cautious, very cautious,' thought Emma ; ' he advances 
inch by inch, and will hazard nothing till he believes himself 
secure.' 

Still, however, though everything had not been accom- 
plished by her ingenious device, she could not but flatter 
herself that it had been the occasion of much present enjoy- 
ment to both, and must be leading them forward to the great 
event. 



CHAPTER XI 

Mr. Elton must now be left to himself. It was no longer 
in Emma's power to superintend his happiness, or quicken 
his measures. The coming of her sister's family was so very 
near at hand, that first in anticipation, and then in reality, it 
became henceforth the prime object of interest ; and during 
the ten days of their stay at Hartfield it was not to be expected 
— she did not herself expect — that anything beyond occasional, 
fortuitous assistance could be afforded by her to the lovers. 
They might advance rapidly if they would, however ; they 
must advance somehow or other, whether they would or no. 
She hardly wished to have more leisure for them. There are 
people who, the more you do for them, the less they will do for 
themselves. 

79 



EMMA 

Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, from having been longer 
than usual absent from Surrey, were exciting, of course, rather 
more than the usual interest. Till this year, every long 
vacation since their marriage had been divided between 
Hartfield and Donwell Abbey ; but all the holidays of this 
autumn had been given to sea-bathing for the children ; and 
it was therefore many months since they had been seen in a 
regular way by their Surrey connections, or seen at all by Mr. 
Woodhouse, who could not be induced to get so far as London, 
even for poor Isabella's sake, and who consequently was now 
most nervously and apprehensively happy in forestalling this 
too short visit. 

He thought much of the evils of the journey for her, and 
not a little of the fatigues of his own horses and coachman, who 
were to bring some of the party the last half of the way ; but 
his alarms were needless ; the sixteen miles being happily 
accomplished, and Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, their five 
children, and a competent number of nursery-maids, all reach- 
ing Hartfield in safety. The bustle and joy of such an arrival, 
the many to be talked to, welcomed, encouraged, and variously 
dispersed and disposed of, produced a noise and confusion 
which his nerves could not have borne under any other cause, 
nor have endured much longer even for this ; but the ways of 
Hartfield and the feelings of her father were so respected by 
Mrs. John Knightley, that in spite of maternal solicitude for 
the immediate enjoyment of her little ones, and for their having 
instantly all the liberty and attendance, all the eating and drink- 
ing, and sleeping and playing, which they could possibly wish 
for, without the smallest delay, the children were never allowed 
to be long a disturbance to him, either in themselves or in any 
restless attendance on them. 

Mrs. John Knightley was a pretty, elegant little woman, of 
gentle, quiet manners, and a disposition remarkably amiable 
and affectionate, wrapt up in her family, a devoted wife, a 
doting mother, and so tenderly attached to her father and sister 
that, but for these higher ties, a warmer love might have 
seemed impossible. She could never see a fault in any of 
them. She was not a woman of strong understanding or any 
quickness ; and with this resemblance of her father, she in- 
herited also much of his constitution ; was delicate in her own 
health, over-careful of that of her children, had many fears and 

80 



EMMA 

many nerves, and was as fond of her own Mr. Wingfield in 
town as her father could be of Mr. Perry. They were alike, 
too, in a general benevolence of temper, and a strong habit of 
regard for every old acquaintance, 

Mr. John Knightley was a tall, gentleman-like, and very 
clever man ; rising in his profession, domestic and respectable 
in his private character ; but with reserved manners which 
prevented his being generally pleasing, and capable of being 
sometimes out of humour. He was not an ill-tempered man, 
not so often unreasonably cross as to deserve such a reproach ; 
but his temper was not his great perfection ; and, indeed, with 
such a worshipping wife, it was hardly possible that any 
natural defects in it should not be increased. The extreme 
sweetness of her temper must hurt his. He had all the clear- 
ness and quickness of mind which she wanted ; and he could 
sometimes act an ungracious, or say a severe thing. He was 
not a great favourite with his fair sister-in-law. Nothing 
wrong in him escaped her. She was quick in feeling the little 
injuries to Isabella, which Isabella never felt herself. Perhaps 
she might have passed over more had his manners been flatter- 
ing to Isabella's sister, but they were only those of a calmly 
kind brother and friend, without praise and without blindness ; 
but hardly any degree of personal compliment could have made 
her regardless of that greatest fault of all in her eyes which he 
sometimes fell into, the want of respectful forbearance towards 
her father. There he had not always the patience that could 
have been wished. Mr. Woodhouse's peculiarities and fidgeti- 
ness were sometimes provoking him to a rational remonstrance 
or sharp retort equally ill bestowed. It did not often happen ; 
for Mr. John Knightley had really a great regard for his father- 
in-law, and generally a strong sense of what was due to him ; 
but it was too often for Emma's charity, especially as there 
was all the pain of apprehension frequently to be endured, 
though the offence came not. The beginning, liowever, of 
every visit displayed none but the properest feelings, and 
this being of necessity so short, might be hoped to pass 
away in unsullied cordiality. They had not been long seated 
and composed when Mr. Woodhouse, with a melancholy 
shake of the head and a sigh, called his daughter's atten- 
tion to the sad change at Hartfield since she had been there 
last. 

G 8i 



EMMA 

' Ah, my dear,' said he, ' poor Miss Taylor. It is a grievous 
business.' 

' Oh yes, sir,' cried she, with ready sympathy ; < how you 
must miss her ! And dear Emma, too. What a dreadful loss 
to you both ! I have been so grieved for you. I could not 
imagine how you could possibly do without her. It is a sad 
change, indeed ; but I hope she is pretty well, sir ? ' 

' Pretty well, my dear, — I hope, — pretty well. I do not know 
but that the place agrees with her tolerably.' 

Mr. John Knightley here asked Emma, quietly, whether 
there were any doubts of the air of Randalls. 

' Oh no, none in the least. I never saw Mrs. Weston 
better in my life, — never looking so well. Papa is only speak- 
ing his own regret.' 

'Very much to the honour of both,' was the handsome 
reply. 

'And do you see her, sir, tolerably often.?' asked Isabella 
in the plaintive tone which just suited her father. 

Mr. Woodhouse hesitated. ' Not near so often, my dear, as 
I could wish.' 

' Oh, papa, we have missed seeing them but one entire 
day since they married. Either in the morning or evening 
of every day, excepting one, have we seen either Mr. Weston 
or Mrs. Weston, and generally both, either at Randalls or 
here ; and, as you may suppose, Isabella, most frequently 
here. They are very, very kind in their visits. Mr. Weston 
is really as kind as herself. Papa, if you speak in that 
melancholy way, you will be giving Isabella a false idea of 
us all. Everybody must be aware that Miss Taylor must be 
missed ; but everybody ought also to be assured that Mr. and 
Mrs. Weston do really prevent our missing her by any means 
to the extent we ourselves anticipated, — which is the exact 
truth.' 

' Just as it should be,' said Mr. John Knightley, ' and just 
as I hoped it was from your letters. Her wish of showing you 
attention could not be doubted, and his being a disengaged and 
social man makes it all easy. I have been always telling you, 
my love, that I had no idea of the change being so very 
material to Hartfield as you apprehended ; and now you have 
Emma's account, I hope you will be satisfied.' 

' Why, to be sure,' said Mr. Woodhouse, — ' yes, certainly. 
82 



EMMA 

I cannot deny that Mrs. Weston, — poor Mrs. Weston, — does 
come and see us pretty often ; but then, she is always obliged 
to go away again.' 

* It would be very hard upon Mr. Weston if she did not, 
papa. You quite forget poor Mr. Weston.' 

' I think, indeed,' said Mr. John Knightley pleasantly, 
' that Mr. Weston has some little claim. You and I, Emma, 
will venture to take the part of the poor husband. I being 
a husband, and you not being a wife, the claims of the man 
may very likely strike us with equal force. As for Isabella, 
she has been married long enough to see the convenience 
of putting all the Mr. Westons aside as much as she can.' 

' Me, my love ? ' cried his wife, hearing and understanding 
only in part. ' Are you talking about me ? I am sure nobody 
ought to be, or can be, a greater advocate for matrimony than 
I am ; and if it had not been for the misery of her leaving 
Hartfield, I should never have thought of Miss Taylor but as 
the most fortunate woman in the world ; and as to slighting 
Mr. Weston, — that excellent Mr. Weston, — I think there is 
nothing he does not deserve. I believe he is one of the very 
best-tempered men that ever existed. Excepting yourself and 
your brother, I do not know his equal for temper. I shall 
never forget his flying Henry's kite for him that very windy 
day last Easter ; and ever since his particular kindness last 
September twelvemonth in writing that note, at twelve o'clock 
at night, on purpose to assure me that there was no scarlet 
fever at Cobham, I have been convinced there could not be a 
more feeling heart nor a better man in existence. If anybody 
can deserve him, it must be Miss Taylor.' 

' Where is the young man ? ' said John Knightley. ' Has 
he been here on this occasion, or has he not ? ' 

' He has not been here yet,' replied Emma. ' There was a 
strong expectation of his coming soon after the marriage, 
but it ended in nothing ; and I have not heard him mentioned 
lately.' 

' But you should tell them of the letter, my dear,' said her 
father. ' He wrote a letter to poor Mrs. Weston, to congratu- 
late her, and a very proper, handsome letter it was. She 
showed it to me. I thought it very well done of him, indeed. 
Whether it was his own idea, you know, one cannot tell. He 
is but young, and his uncle perhaps ' 

83 



Vt^ ^^ 







^^ 



S^'v^-Ui ^. 



Flying^ Henry's kite for hint. 



I 



EMMA 

' My dear papa, he is three-and-twenty. You forget how 
time passes.' 

' Three-and-twenty ! is he, indeed ? Well, I could not have 
thought it ; and he was but two years old when he lost his 
poor mother. Well, time does fly indeed ! and my memory 
is very bad. However, it was an exceeding good, pretty 
letter, and gave Mr. and Mrs. Weston a great deal of pleasure. 
I remember it was written from Weymouth, and dated Sept. 
28th, and began, " My dear Madam," but I forget how it went 
on ; and it was signed " F. C. Weston Churchill," I remember 
that perfectly.' 

' How very pleasing and proper of him,' cried the good- 
hearted Mrs. John Knightley. ' I have no doubt of his being 
a most amiable young man. But how sad it is that he should 
not live at home with his father ! There is something so 
shocking in a child's being taken away from his parents and 
natural home ! I never can comprehend how Mr. Weston 
could part with him. To give up one's child ! I really never 
could think well of anybody who proposed such a thing to 
anybody else.' 

' Nobody ever did think well of the Churchills, I fancy,' 
observed Mr. John Knightley coolly. ' But you need not 
imagine Mr. Weston to have felt what you would feel in giving 
up Henry or John. Mr. Weston is rather an easy, cheerful- 
tempered man, than a man of strong feelings ; he takes things 
as he finds them, and makes enjoyment of them somehow or 
other, depending, I suspect, much more upon what is called 
society for his comforts, that is, upon the power of eating and 
drinking, and playing whist with his neighbours five times a- 
week, than upon family affection, or anything that home 
affords.' 

Emma could not like what bordered on a reflection on Mr. 
Weston, and had half a mind to take it up ; but she struggled, 
and let it pass. She would keep the peace if possible ; and 
there was something honourable and valuable in the strong 
domestic habits, the all-sufficiency of home to himself, whence 
resulted her brother's disposition to look down on the common 
rate of social intercourse, and those to whom it was important. 
It had a high claim to forbearance. 



8s 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XII 

Mr. Knightley was to dine with them, rather against the 
inclination of Mr. Woodhouse, who did not like that any one 
should share with him in Isabella's first day. Emma's sense 
of right, however, had decided it ; and, besides the considera- 
tion of what was due to each brother, she had particular 
pleasure, from the circumstance of the late disagreement 
between Mr. Knightley and herself, in procuring him the 
proper invitation. 

She hoped they might now become friends again. She 
thought it was time to make up. Making up, indeed, would 
not do. She certainly had not been in the wrong, and he 
would never own that he had. Concession must be out of the 
question ; but it was time to appear to forget that they had 
ever quarrelled ; and she hoped it might rather assist the 
restoration of friendship, that when he came into the room she 
had one of the children with her, — the youngest, a nice little 
girl, about eight months old, who was now making her first 
visit to Hartfield, and very happy to be danced about in her 
aunt's arms. It did assist ; for though he began with grave 
looks and short questions, he was soon led on to talk of them 
all in the usual way, and to take the child out of her arms 
with all the unceremoniousness of perfect amity, Emma felt 
they were friends again ; and the conviction giving her at 
first great satisfaction, and then a little sauciness, she could 
not help saying, as he was admiring the baby — 

'What a comfort it is, that we think alike about our 
nephews and nieces. As to men and women, our opinions 
are sometimes very different ; but with regard to these 
children, I observe we never disagree.' 

' If you were as much guided by nature in your estimate of 
men and women, and as little under the power of fancy and 
whim in your dealings with them, as you are where these 
children are concerned, we might always think alike.' 

' To be sure — our discordances must always arise from my 
being in the wrong.' 

'Yes,' said he, smiling, 'and reason good. I was sixteen 
years old when you were born.' 

86 



EMMA 

*A material difference, then,' she replied; 'and no doubt 
you were much my superior in judgment at that period of our 
lives ; but does not the lapse of one-and-twenty years bring 
our understandings a good deal nearer ? ' 

' Yes, a good deal nearer.^ 

' But still, not near enough to give me a chance of being 
right, if we think differently.' 

' I have still the advantage of you by sixteen years' ex- 
perience, and by not being a pretty young woman and a 
spoilt child. Come, my dear Emma, let us be friends, and 
say no more about it. Tell your aunt, little Emma, that she 
ought to set you a better example than to be renewing old 
grievances, and that if she were not wrong before, she 
is now.' 

'That's true,' she cried, 'ver>' true. Little Emma, grow 
up a better woman than your aunt. Be infinitely cleverer 
and not half so conceited. Now, Mr. Knightley, a word 
or two more, and I have done. As far as good intentions 
went, we were both right, and I must say, that no effects 
on my side of the argument have yet proved wrong. I only 
want to know that Mr. Martin is not very, very bitterly 
disappointed.' 

' A man cannot be more so ' was his short, full answer. 

' Ah ! Indeed I am very sorry. Come, shake hands 
with me.' 

This had just taken place, and with great cordiality, when 
John Knightley made his appearance ; and ' How d'ye do, 
George ? ' and ' John, how are you ? ' succeeded in the true 
English style, burying under a calmness that seemed all 
but indifference the real attachment which would have led 
either of them, if requisite, to do everything for the good of 
the other. 

The evening was quiet and conversable, as Mr. Woodhouse 
declined cards entirely for the sake of comfortable talk with 
his dear Isabella, and the little party made two natural divi- 
sions : on one side he and his daughter ; on the other the 
two Mr, Knightleys ; their subjects totally distinct, or very 
rarely mixing, and Emma only occasionally joining in one or 
the other. 

The brothers talked of their own concerns and pursuits, 
but principally of those of the elder, whose temper was by 

87 



EMMA 

much the most communicative, and who was always the 
greater talker. As a magistrate, he had generally some point 
of law to consult John about, or, at least, some carious anec- 
dote to give ; and as a farmer, as keeping in hand the home- 
farm at Donwell, he had to tell what every field was to bear 
next year, and to give all such local information as could not 
fail of being interesting to a brother, whose home it had 
equally been the longest part of his life, and whose attachments 
were strong. The plan of a drain, the change of a fence, the 
felling of a tree, and the destination of every acre for wheat, 
turnips, or spring corn, were entered into with as much equality 
of interest by John as his cooler manners rendered possible ; 
and if his willing brother ever left him anything to inquire 
about, his inquiries even approached a tone of eagerness. 

While they were thus comfortably occupied, Mr. Woodhouse 
was enjoying a full flow of happy regrets and fearful affection 
with his daughter. 

' My poor dear Isabella,' said he, fondly taking her hand, 
and interrupting, for a few moments, her busy labours for 
some one of her five children, 'how long it is, how terribly 
long, since you were here ! And how tired you must be after 
your journey ! You must go to bed early, my dear, — and I 
recommend a little gruel to you before you go. You and I 
will have a nice basin of gruel together. My dear Emma, 
suppose we all have a little gruel.' 

Emma could not suppose any such thing, knowing, as she 
did, that both the Mr. Knightleys were as unpersuadable on 
that article as herself, and two basins only were ordered. 
After a little more discourse in praise of gruel, with some 
wondering at its not being taken every evening by everybody, 
he proceeded to say, with an air of grave reflection — 

' It was an awkward business, my dear, your spending the 
autumn at South End instead of coming here. I never had 
much opinion of the sea air.' 

' Mr. Wingfield most strenuously recommended it, sir, or we 
should not have gone. He recommended it for all the children, 
but particularly for the weakness in little Bella's throat, — both 
sea air and bathing.' 

'Ah, my dear, but Perry had many doubts about the sea 
doing her any good ; and as to myself, I have been long per- 
fectly convinced, though perhaps I never told you so before, 

88 



EMMA 

that the sea is very rarely of use to anybody. I am sure it 
almost killed me once.' 

' Come, come,' cried Emma, feeling this to be an unsafe 
subject, ' I must beg you not to talk of the sea. It makes me 
envious and miserable ; I who have never seen it ! South 
End is prohibited, if you please. My dear Isabella, I have 
not heard you make one inquiry after Mr. Perry yet ; and he 
never forgets you.' 

' Oh, good Mr. Perry, how is he, sir } ' 

' Why, pretty well ; but not quite well. Poor Perry is 
bilious, and he has not time to take care of himself ; he tells 
me he has not time to take care of himself — which is very sad 
— but he is always wanted all round the country. I suppose 
there is not a man in such practice anywhere. But then, there 
is not so clever a man anywhere.' 

* And Mrs. Perry and the children, how are they ? Do the 
children grow ? I have a great regard for Mr. Perry. I hope 
he will be calling soon. He will be so pleased to see my little 
ones.' 

' I hope he will be here to-morrow, for I have a question or 
two to ask him about myself of some consequence. And, my 
dear, whenever he comes, you had better let him look at little 
Bella's throat.' 

' Oh, my dear sir, her throat is so much better that I have 
hardly any uneasiness about it. Either bathing has been of 
the greatest service to her, or else it is to be attributed to an 
excellent embrocation of Mr. Wingfield's, which we have been 
applying at times ever since August.' 

* It is not very likely, my dear, that bathing should have 
been of use to her ; and if I had known you were wanting an 
embrocation, I would have spoken to ' 

' You seem to me to have forgotten Mrs. and Miss Bates,' 
said Emma ; ' I have not heard one inquiry after them.' 

' Oh, the good Bateses — I am quite ashamed of myself ; but 
you mention them in most of your letters. I hope they are 
quite well. Good old Mrs. Bates. I will call upon her to- 
morrow, and take my children. They are always so pleased 
to see my children. And that excellent Miss Bates ! — such 
thorough worthy people ! How are they, sir ? ' 

'Why, pretty well, my dear, upon the whole. But poor 
Mrs. Bates had a bad cold about a month ago.' 

89 



EMMA 

' How sorry I am ! but colds were never so prevalent as 
they have been this autumn. Mr. Wingfield told me that he 
had never known them more general or heavy, except when it 
has been quite an influenza.' 

* That has been a good deal the case, my dear, but not to 
the degree you mention. Perry says that colds have been very 
general, but not so heavy as he has very often known them in 
November. Perry does not call it altogether a sickly season.' 

' No, I do not know that Mr. Wingfield considers it very 
sickly, except ' 

' Ah, my poor dear child, the truth is, that in London it is 
always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody 
can be. It is a dreadful thing to have you forced to live there ; 
— so far off ! — and the air so bad ! ' 

' No, indeed, we are not at all in a bad air. Our part of 
London is so very superior to most others. You must not 
confound us with London in general, my dear sir. The neigh- 
bourhood of Brunswick Square is very different from almost 
all the rest. We are so very airy ! I should be unwilling, I 
own, to live in any other part of the town ; there is hardly any 
other that I could be satisfied to have my children in ; but we 
are so remarkably airy ! Mr. Wingfield thinks the vicinity of 
Brunswick Square decidedly the most favourable as to air.' 

' Ah, my dear, it is not like Hartfield. You make the best 
of it — but after you have been a week at Hartfield, you are all 
of you different creatures ; you do not look like the same. Now, 
I cannot say that I think you are any of you looking well at 
present.' 

' I am sorry to hear you say so, sir ; but I assure you, 
excepting those little nervous headaches and palpitations, 
which I am never entirely free from anywhere, I am quite well 
myself; and if the children were rather pale before they went to 
bed, it was only because they were a little more tired than 
usual, from their journey and the happiness of coming. I hope 
you will think better of their looks to-morrow ; for I assure you 
Mr. Wingfield told me, that he did not believe he had ever sent 
us off, altogether, in such good case. I trust, at least, that you 
do not think Mr. Knightley looking ill,' turning her eyes with 
affectionate anxiety towards her husband. 

' Middling, my dear ; I cannot compliment you. I think 
Mr. John Knightley very far from looking well.' 

90 



EMMA 

' What is the matter, sir ? Did you speak to me ? ' cried 
Mr. John Knightley, hearing his own name. 

* I am sorry to find, my love, that my father does not think you 
looking well ; but I hope it is only from being a little fatigued. 
I could have wished, however, as you know, that you had seen 
Mr. Wingfield before you left home.' 

' My dear Isabella,' exclaimed he, hastily, ' pray do not con- 
cern yourself about my looks. Be satisfied with doctoring 
and coddling yourself and the children, and let me look as 
I choose.' 

' I did not thoroughly understand what you were telling 
your brother,' cried Emma, 'about your friend Mr. Graham's 
intending to have a bailiff from Scotland, to look after his new 
estate. But will it answer ? Will not the old prejudice be too 
strong ? ' 

And she talked in this way so long and successfully that, 
when forced to give her attention again to her father and 
sister, she had nothing worse to hear than Isabella's kind 
inquiry after Jane Fairfax ; and Jane Fairfax, though no great 
favourite with her in general, she was, at that moment, very 
happy to assist in praising. 

' That sweet, amiable Jane Fairfax ! ' said Mrs. John 
Knightley. ' It is so long since I have seen her, except now 
and then for a moment accidentally in town ; what happiness 
it must be to her good old grandmother and excellent aunt, 
when she comes to visit them ! I always regret excessively, 
on dear Emma's account, that she cannot be more at High- 
bury ; but now their daughter is married, I suppose Colonel 
and Mrs. Campbell will not be able to part with her at all. 
She would be such a delightful companion for Emma.' 

Mr. Woodhouse agreed to it all, but added — 

<Our little friend, Harriet Smith, however, is just such 
another pretty kind of young person. You will like Harriet. 
Emma could not have a better companion than Harriet.' 

* I am most happy to hear it ; but only Jane Fairfax one 
knows to be so very accomplished and superior, and exactly 
Emma's age.' 

This topic was discussed very happily, and others succeeded 
of similar moment, and passed away with similar harmony ; 
but the evening did not close without a little return of agitation. 
The gruel came, and supplied a great deal to be said — much 

91 



EMMA 

praise and many comments — undoubting decision of its whole- 
someness for every constitution, and pretty severe philippics 
upon the many houses where it was never met with tolerable ; 
but, unfortunately, among the failures which the daughter had 
to instance, the most recent, and therefore most prominent, 
was in her own cook at South End, a young woman hired for 
the time, who never had been able to understand what she 
meant by a basin of nice smooth gruel, thin, but not too thin. 
Often as she had wished for and ordered it, she had never 
been able to get anything tolerable. Here was a dangerous 
opening. 

'Ah,' said Mr. Woodhouse, shaking his head, and fixing 
his eyes on her with tender concern. The ejaculation in 
Emma's ear expressed, ' Ah, there is no end of the sad con- 
sequences of your going to South End. It does not bear 
talking of.' And for a little while she hoped he would not talk 
of it, and that a silent rumination might suffice to restore him 
to the relish of his own smooth gruel. After an interval of 
some minutes, however, he began with — 

' I shall always be very sorry that you went to the sea this 
autumn, instead of coming here.' 

' But why should you be sorry, sir ? I assure you, it did 
the children a great deal of good.' 

' And, moreover, if you must go to the sea, it had better 
not have been to South End. South End is an unhealthy place. 
Perry was surprised to hear you had fixed upon South End.' 

* I know there is such an idea with many people, but indeed 
it is quite a mistake, sir. We all had our health perfectly well 
there, never found the least inconvenience from the mud, and 
Mr. Wingfield says it is entirely a mistake to suppose the place 
unhealthy ; and I am sure he may be depended on, for he 
thoroughly understands the nature of the air, and his own 
brother and family have been there repeatedly.' 

'You should have gone to Cromer, my dear, if you went 
anywhere. Perry was a week at Cromer once, and he holds 
it to be the best of all the sea-bathing places. A fine open 
sea, he says, and very pure air. And, by what I understand, 
you might have had lodgings there quite away from the sea — 
a quarter of a mile off — very comfortable. You should have 
consulted Perry.' 

* But, my dear sir, the difference of the journey ; only con- 

92 




She had never been able to get anything tolerable. 



EMMA 

sider how great it would have been. A hundred miles, per- 
haps, instead of forty.' 

'Ah, my dear, as Perry says, where health is at stake, 
nothing else should be considered ; and if one is to travel, 
there is not much to choose between forty miles and a hundred. 
Better not move at all, better stay in London altogether, than 
travel forty miles to get into a worse air. This is just what 
Perry said. It seemed to him a very ill-judged measure.' 

Emma's attempts to stop her father had been vain ; and 
when he had reached such a point as this, she could not wonder 
at her brother-in-law's breaking out. 

' Mr. Perry,' said he, in a voice of very strong displeasure, 
' would do as well to keep his opinion till it is asked for. Why 
does he make it any business of his to wonder at what I do ? 
— at my taking my family to one part of the coast or another ? 
I may be allowed, I hope, the use of my judgment as well as 
Mr. Perry. I want his directions no more than his drugs.' 
He paused, and growing cooler in a moment, added, with only 
sarcastic dryness, ' If Mr. Perry can tell me how to convey a 
wife and five children a distance of a hundred and thirty miles 
with no greater expense or inconvenience than a distance of 
forty, I should be as willing to prefer Cromer to South End as 
he could himself 

' True, true,' cried Mr. Knightley, with most ready inter- 
position, — 'very true. That's a consideration, indeed. But, 
John, as to what I was telling you of my idea of moving the 
path to Langham, of turning it more to the right that it may 
not cut through the home meadows, I cannot conceive any 
difficulty. I should not attempt it, if it were to be the means 
of inconvenience to the Highbury people, but if you call to 
mind exactly the present line of the path. . . . The only way of 
proving it, however, will be to turn to our maps. I shall see 
you at the Abbey to-morrow morning I hope, and then we will 
look them over, and you shall give me your opinion.' 

Mr. Woodhouse was rather agitated by such harsh reflec- 
tions on his friend Perry, to whom he had, in fact, though un- 
consciously, been attributing many of his own feelings and 
expressions ; but the soothing attentions of his daughters 
gradually removed the present evil, and the immediate alert- 
ness of one brother, and better recollections of the other, 
prevented any renewal of it. 

94 



I 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XIII 

There could hardly be a happier creature in the world than 
Mrs. John Knightley, in this short visit to Hartfield, going 
about every morning among her old acquaintance with her 
five children, and talking over what she had done every evening 
with her father and sister. She had nothing to wish otherwise, 
but that the days did not pass so swiftly. It was a delightful 
visit — perfect, in being much too short. 

In general their evenings were less engaged with friends 
than their mornings : but one complete dinner engagement, 
and out of the house too, there was no avoiding, though at 
Christmas. Mr. Weston would take no denial ; they must all 
dine at Randalls one day ; — even Mr. Woodhouse was persuaded 
to think it a possible thing in preference to a division of the 
party. 

How they were all to be conveyed, he would have made a 
difficulty if he could, but as his son and daughter's carriage 
and horses were actually at Hartfield, he was not able to make 
more than a simple question on that head ; it hardly amounted 
to a doubt ; nor did it occupy Emma long to convince him 
that they might in one of the carriages find room for Harriet 
also. 

Harriet, Mr. Elton, and Mr. Knightley, their own especial 
set, were the only persons invited to meet them : — the hours 
were to be early as well as the numbers few ; Mr. Woodhouse's 
habits and inclination being consulted in everything. 

The evening before this great event (for it was a very great 
event that Mr. Woodhouse should dine out on the 24th of 
December) had been spent by Harriet at Hartfield, and she 
had gone home so much indisposed with a cold, that, but for 
her own earnest wish of being nursed by Mrs. Goddard, Emma 
could not have allowed her to leave the house. Emma called 
on her the next day, and found her doom already signed with 
regard to Randalls. She was very feverish and had a bad 
sore throat ; Mrs. Goddard was full of care and affection, Mr. 
Perry was talked of, and Harriet herself was too ill and low to 
resist the authority which excluded her from this delightful 

95 



EMMA 

engagement, though she could not speak of her loss without 
many tears. 

Emma sat with her as long as she could, to attend her in 
Mrs. Goddard's unavoidable absences, and raise her spirits by 
representing how much Mr. Elton's would be depressed when 
he knew her state ; and left her at last tolerably comfortable, 
in the sweet dependence of his having a most comfortless visit, 
and of their all missing her very much. She had not advanced 
many yards from Mrs. Goddard's door, when she was met by 
Mr. Elton himself, evidently coming towards it, and as they 
walked on slowly together in conversation about the invalid, — 
of whom he, on the rumour of considerable illness, had been 
going to inquire, that he might carry some report of her to 
Hartfield, — they were overtaken by Mr. John Knightley return- 
ing from the daily visit to Donwell, with his two eldest boys, 
whose healthy, glowing faces showed all the benefit of a country 
run, and seemed to ensure a quick despatch of the roast mutton 
and rice-pudding they were hastening home for. They joined 
company and proceeded together. Emma was just describing 
the nature of her friend's complaint : — ' a throat very much 
inflamed, with a great deal of heat about her, a quick low pulse, 
etc., and she was sorry to find from Mrs. Goddard that Harriet 
was liable to very bad sore throats, and had often alarmed her 
with them.' Mr. Elton looked all alarm on the occasion, as 
he exclaimed — 

' A sore throat ! — I hope not infectious. I hope not of a 
putrid, infectious sort. Has Perry seen her? Indeed, you 
should take care of yourself as well as of your friend. Let me 
entreat you to run no risks. Why does not Perry see her ? ' 

Emma, who was not really at all frightened herself, tran- 
quillised this excess of apprehension by assurances of Mrs. 
Goddard's experience and care ; but as there must still re- 
main a degree of uneasiness which she could not wish to reason 
away, which she would rather feel and assist than not, she 
added soon afterwards — as if quite another subject — 

'It is so cold, so very cold, and looks and feels so very 
much like snow, that if it were to any other place or with any 
other party, I should really try not to go out to-day, and 
dissuade my father from venturing ; but as he has made up his 
mind, and does not seem to feel the cold himself, I do not like 
to interfere, as I know it would be so great a disappointment to 

96 



EMMA 

Mr. and Mrs. Weston. But upon my word, Mr. Elton, in 
your case I should certainly excuse myself. You appear to 
me a little hoarse already ; and when you consider what demand 
of voice and what fatigues to-morrow will bring, I think it 
would be no more than common prudence to stay at home and 
take care of yourself to-night.' 

Mr. Elton looked as if he did not very well know what 
answer to make ; which was exactly the case ; for though 
very much gratified by the kind care of such a fair lady, and 
not liking to resist any advice of hers, he had not really the 
least inclination to give up the visit ; but Emma, too eager 
and busy in her own previous conceptions and views to hear 
him impartially, or see him with clear vision, was very well 
satisfied with his muttering acknowledgment of its being ' very 
cold, certainly very cold,' and walked on, rejoicing in having 
extricated himself from Randalls, and secured him the power 
of sending to inquire after Harriet every hour of the evening. 

'You do quite right,' said she: — 'we will make your 
apologies to Mr. and Mrs. Weston.' 

But hardly had she so spoken when she found her brother 
was civilly offering a seat in his carriage, if the weather were 
Mr. Elton's only objection, and Mr. Elton actually accepting 
the offer with much prompt satisfaction. It was a done thing : 
Mr. Elton was to go ; and never had his broad handsome 
face expressed more pleasure than at this moment ; never had 
his smile been stronger, nor his eyes more exulting than when 
he next looked at her. 

' Well,' said she to herself, ' this is most strange ! After 
I had gotten him off" so well, to choose to go into company, 
and leave Harriet ill behind ! Most strange indeed ! But 
there is, I believe, in many men, especially single men, such 
an inclination — such a passion for dining out ; a dinner 
engagement is so high in the class of their pleasures, their 
employments, their dignities, almost their duties, that anything 
gives way to it — and this must be the case with Mr. Elton ; 
a. most valuable, amiable, pleasing young man undoubtedly, 
and very much in love with Harriet ; but still, he cannot refuse 
an invitation, he must dine out wherever he is asked. What 
a strange thing love is ! he can see ready wit in Harriet, but 
will not dine alone for her.' 

Soon afterwards Mr. Elton quitted them, and she could 
H 97 



EMMA 

not but do him the justice of feehng that there was a great 
deal of sentiment in his manner of naming Harriet at parting ; 
in the tone of his voice while assuring her that he should call 
at Mrs. Goddard's for news of her fair friend, the last thing 
before he prepared for the happiness of meeting her again, 
when he hoped to be able to give a better report ; and he 
sighed and smiled himself off in a way that left the balance of 
approbation much in his favour. 

After a few minutes of entire silence between them, John 
Knightley began with — 

* I never in my hfe saw a man more intent on being 
agreeable than Mr. Elton. It is downright labour to him 
where ladies are concerned. With men he can be rational 
and unaffected, but when he has ladies to please every feature 
works.' 

* Mr. Elton's manners are not perfect,' replied Emma ; ' but 
where there is a wish to please, one ought to overlook, and 
one does overlook, a great deal. Where a man does his best 
with only moderate powers, he will have the advantage over 
negligent superiority. There is such perfect good temper 
and goodwill in Mr. Elton as one cannot but value.' 

' Yes,' said Mr. John Knightley presently, with some 
slyness, 'he seems to have a great deal of goodwill to- 
wards/^//.' 

' Me ! ' she replied, with a smile of astonishment ; ' are 
you imagining me to be Mr. Elton's object ? 

' Such an imagination has crossed me, I own, Emma ; and 
if it never occurred to you before, you may as well take it 
into consideration now.' 

' Mr. Elton in love with me ! What an idea ! ' 

' I do not say it is so ; but you will do well to consider 
whether it is so or not, and to regulate your behaviour 
accordingly. I think your manners to him encouraging. I 
speak as a friend, Emma. You had better look about you, 
and ascertain what you do, and what you mean to do.' 

' I thank you ; but I assure you you are quite mistaken. 
Mr. Elton and I are very good friends, and nothing more ; ' 
and she walked on, amusing herself in the consideration of 
the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of 
circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pre- 
tensions to judgment are for ever faUing into ; and not very 

98 



tMMA 

well pleased with her brother for imagining her blind and 
ignorant, and in want of counsel. He said no more. 

Mr. Woodhouse had so completely made up his mind to 
the visit, that in spite of the increasing coldness he seemed 
to have no idea of shrinking from it, and set forward at last 
most punctually with his eldest daughter in his own carriage, 
with less apparent consciousness of the weather than either 
of the others ; too full of the wonder of his own going, and 
the pleasure it was to afford at Randalls to see that it was 
cold, and too well wrapt up to feel it. The cold, however, 
was severe ; and by the time the second carriage was in 
motion, a few flakes of snow were finding their way down, 
and the sky had the appearance of being so overcharged as 
to want only a milder air to produce a very white world in a 
very short time. 

Emma soon saw that her companion was not in the hap- 
piest humour. The preparing and the going abroad in such 
weather, with the sacrifice of his children after dinner, were 
evils, were disagreeables at least, which Mr. John Knightley 
did not by any means like ; he anticipated nothing in the 
visit that could be at all worth the purchase ; and the whole 
of their drive to the vicarage was spent by him in expressing 
his discontent. 

'A man,' said he, 'must have a very good opinion of 
himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, 
and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to 
see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow ; I 
could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity — 
actually snowing at this moment ! The folly of not allowing 
people to be comfortable at home — and the folly of people's 
not staying comfortably at home when they can ! If we were 
obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty 
or business, what a hardship we should deem it ; — and here 
are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, 
setting forward voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the 
voice of nature, which tells man, in everything given to his 
view or his feelings, to stay at home himself, and keep all 
under shelter that he can ; — here are we setting forward to 
spend five dull hours in another man's house, with nothing to 
say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may 
not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal 

99 



EMMA 

weather, to return probably in worse ; — four horses and four 
servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shiver- 
ing creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they 
might have had at home.' 

Emma did not find herself equal to give the pleased 
assent, which no doubt he was in the habit of receiving, to 
emulate the 'Very true, my love,' which must have been 
usually administered by his travelling companion ; but she 
had resolution enough to refrain from making any answer at 
all. She could not be complying ; she dreaded being quarrel- 
some ; her heroism reached only to silence. She allowed 
him to talk, and arrange the glasses, and wrapped herself up, 
without opening her lips ! 

They arrived, the carriage turned, the step was let down, 
and Mr. Elton, spruce, black, and smiling, was with them 
instantly. Emma thought with pleasure of some change of 
subject. Mr. Elton was all obligation and cheerfulness ; he 
was so very cheerful in his civilities indeed, that she began 
to think he must have received a different account of Harriet 
from what had reached her. She had sent while dressing, 
and the answer had been, ' Much the same — not better.' 

' My report from Mrs. Goddard's,' said she presently, ' was 
not so pleasant as I had hoped: — "Not better," was w^ answer.' 

His face lengthened immediately ; and his voice was the 
voice of sentiment as he answered — 

' Oh no — I am grieved to find — I was on the point of 
telling you that when I called at Mrs. Goddard's door, which 
I did the very last thing before I returned to dress, I was told 
that Miss Smith was not better, by no means better, rather 
worse. Very much grieved and concerned — I had flattered 
myself that she must be better after such a cordial as I knew 
had been given in the mornmg.' 

Emma smiled, and answered, — ' My visit was of use to 
the nervous part of her complaint, I hope ; but not even I can 
charm away a sore throat ; it is a most severe cold, indeed. 
Mr. Perry has been with her, as you probably heard.' 

' Yes — I imagined — that is — I did not ' 

' He has been used to her in these complaints, and I hope 
to-morrow morning will bring us both a more comfortable 
report. But it is impossible not to feel uneasiness. Such a 
sad loss to our party to-day ! ' 

100 



EMMA 

' Dreadful ! Exactly so, indeed. She will be missed every 
moment.' 

This was very proper ; the sigh which accompanied it was 
really estimable ; but it should have lasted longer. Emma 
was rather in dismay when only half a minute afterwards he 
began to speak of other things, and in a voice of the greatest 
alacrity and enjoyment. 

' What an excellent device,' said he, ' the use of a sheep- 
skin for carriages. How very comfortable they make it ; — 
impossible to feel cold with such precautions. The con- 
trivances of modern days, indeed, have rendered a gentleman's 
carriage perfectly complete. One is so fenced and guarded 
from the weather, that not a breath of air can find its way 
unpermitted. Weather becomes absolutely of no consequence. 
It is a very cold afternoon — but in this carriage we know 
nothing of the matter. Ha ! snows a little, I see.' 

' Yes,' said John Knightley, ' and I think we shall have a 
good deal of it.' 

' Christmas weather,' observed Mr. Elton. ' Quite season- 
able ; and extremely fortunate we may think ourselves that it 
did not begin yesterday, and prevent this day's party, which 
it might very possibly have done, for Mr. Woodhouse would 
hardly have ventured had there been much snow on the 
ground ; but now it is of no consequence. This is quite the 
season, indeed, for friendly meetings. At Christmas every- 
body invites their friends about them, and people think little 
of even the worst weather. I was snowed up at a friend's 
house once for a week. Nothing could be pleasanter. I 
went for only one night, and could not get away till that very 
day se'nnight.' 

Mr. John Knightley looked as if he did not comprehend 
the pleasure, but said only coolly — 

' I cannot wish to be snowed up a week at Randalls.' 

At another time Emma might have been amused, but 
she was too much astonished now at Mr. Elton's spirits for 
other feelings. Harriet seemed quite forgotten in the expect- 
ation of a pleasant party. 

' We are sure of excellent fires,' continued he, ' and every- 
thing in the greatest comfort. Charming people, Mr. and 
Mrs. Weston ; — Mrs. Weston indeed is much beyond praise, 
and he is exactly what one values, so hospitable, and so fond 

lOI 



EMMA 

of society ; — it will be a small party, but where small parties 
are select, they are, perhaps, the most agreeable of any. Mr. 
Weston's dining-room does not accommodate more than ten 
comfortably ; and for my part, I would rather, under such 
circumstances, fall short by two than exceed by two. I 
think you will agree with me (turning with a soft air to 
Emma), I think I shall certainly have your approbation, 
though Mr. Knightley, perhaps, from being used to the large 
parties of London, may not quite enter into our feelings.' 

* I know nothing of the large parties of London, sir — I 
never dine with anybody.' 

' Indeed ! (in a tone of wonder and pity) I had no idea 
that the law had been so great a slavery. Well, sir, the time 
must come when you will be paid for all this, when you will 
have little labour and great enjoyment.' 

' My first enjoyment,' replied John Knightley, as they 
passed through the sweep-gate, ' will be to find myself safe at 
Hartfield again.' 



CHAPTER XIV 

Some change of countenance was necessary for each gentle- 
man as they walked into Mrs. Weston's drawing-room ; — Mr. 
Elton must compose his joyous looks, and Mr. John Knightley 
disperse his ill-humour. Mr. Elton must smile less, and Mr. 
John Knightley more, to fit them for the place. Emma only 
might be as nature prompted, and show herself just as happy 
as she was. To her it was real enjoyment to be with the 
Westons. Mr. Weston was a great favourite, and there was 
not a creature in the world to whom she spoke with such 
unreserve as to his wife ; not any one to whom she related 
with such conviction of being listened to and understood, of 
being always interesting and always intelligible, the little 
affairs, arrangements, perplexities, and pleasures of her father 
and herself. She could tell nothing of Hartfield in which 
Mrs. Weston had not a lively concern ; and half an hour's 
uninterrupted communication of all those little matters on 
which the daily happiness of private life depends, was one of 
the first gratifications of each. 

I02 




As they walked into Mrs. Weston s drawing-rootn. 



EMMA 

This was a pleasure which perhaps the whole day's visit 
might not afford, which certainly did not belong to the 
present half-hour ; but the very sight of Mrs. Weston, her 
smile, her touch, her voice, was grateful to Emma, and she 
determined to think as little as possible of Mr. Elton's oddities, 
or of anything else unpleasant, and enjoy all that was enjoy- 
able to the utmost. 

The misfortune of Harriet's cold had been pretty well gone 
through before her arrival. Mr. Woodhouse had been safely 
seated long enough to give the history of it, besides all the 
history of his own and Isabella's coming, and of Emma's being 
to follow ; and had, indeed, just got to the end of his satis- 
faction that James should come and see his daughter, when 
the others appeared, and Mrs. Weston, who had been almost 
wholly engrossed by her attentions to him, was able to turn 
away and welcome her dear Emma. 

Emma's project of forgetting Mr. Elton for a while made 
her rather sorry to find, when they had all taken their places, 
that he was close to her. The difficulty was great of driving 
his strange insensibility towards Harriet from her mind, while 
he not only sat at her elbow, but was continually obtruding 
his happy countenance on her notice, and solicitously ad- 
dressing her upon every occasion. Instead of forgetting 
him, his behaviour was such that she could not avoid the 
internal suggestion of ' Can it really be as my brother im- 
agined ? can it be possible for this man to be beginning to 
transfer his affections from Harriet to me ? — Absurd and 
insufferable.' — Yet he would be so anxious for her being 
perfectly warm, would be so interested about her father, and 
so delighted with Mrs. Weston ; and, at last, would begin 
admiring her drawings with so much zeal and so little know- 
ledge, as seemed terribly like a would-be lover, and made it 
some effort with her to preserve her good manners. For her 
own sake she could not be rude ; and for Harriet's, in the 
hope that all would yet turn out right, she was even positively 
civil ; but it was an effort ; especially as something was 
going on amongst the others, in the most overpowering 
period of Mr. Elton's nonsense, which she particularly wished 
to listen to. She heard enough to know that Mr. Weston 
was giving some information about his son ; she heard the 
words ' my son,' and ' Frank,' and ' my son,' repeated several 

104 



EMMA 

times over ; and, from a few other half syllables, very much 
suspected that he was announcing an early visit from his son ; 
but before she could quiet Mr. Elton, the subject was so 
completely past that any reviving question from her would 
have been awkward. 

Now it so happened that, in spite of Emma's resolution 
of never marrying, there was something in the name, in the 
idea, of Mr. Frank Churchill, which always interested her. 
She had frequently thought, — especially since his father's 
marriage with Miss Taylor, — that if she were to marry, he 
was the very person to suit her in age, character, and con- 
dition. He seemed, by this connection between the families, 
quite to belong to her. She could not but suppose it to be 
a match that everybody who knew them must think of. 
That Mr. and Mrs. Weston did think of it, she was very 
strongly persuaded ; and though not meaning to be induced 
by him, or by anybody else, to give up a situation which 
she believed more replete with good than any she could 
change it for, she had a great curiosity to see him, a decided 
intention of finding him pleasant, of being liked by him to a 
certain degree, and a sort of pleasure in the idea of their being 
coupled in their friends' imaginations. 

With such sensations, Mr. Elton's civilities were dreadfully 
ill-timed ; but she had the comfort of appearing very polite, 
while feeling very cross ; — and of thinking that the rest of the 
visit could not possibly pass without bringing forward the same 
information again, or the substance of it, from the open- 
hearted Mr. Weston. So it proved ; — for, when happily 
released from Mr. Elton, and seated by Mr. Weston at dinner, 
he made use of the very first interval in the cares of hospitality, 
the very first leisure from the saddle of mutton, to say to her — 

' We want only two more to be just the right number. I 
should like to see two more here, — your pretty little friend, 
Miss Smith, and my son, — and then I should say we were 
quite complete. I iDelieve you did not hear me telling the 
others in the drawing-room that we are expecting Frank. I 
had a letter from him this morning, and he will be with us 
within a fortnight.' 

Emma spoke with a very proper degree of pleasure, and 
fully assented to his proposition, of Mr, Frank Churchill and 
Miss Smith making their party quite complete. 

105 



EMMA 

* He has been wanting to come to us,' continued Mr. 
Weston, ' ever since September : every letter has been full of 
it ; but he cannot command his own time. He has those to 
please who must be pleased, and who (between ourselves) are 
sometimes to be pleased, only by a good many sacrifices. 
But now I have no doubt of seeing him here about the second 
week in January.' 

' What a very great pleasure it will be to you ! and Mrs. 
Weston is so anxious to be acquainted with him, that she must 
be almost as happy as yourself.' 

*Yes, she would be, but that she thinks there will be 
another put-off. She does not depend upon his coming so 
much as I do ; but she does not know the parties so well as I 
do. The case, you see, is — (but this is quite between our- 
selves ; I did not mention a syllable of it in the other room. 
There are secrets in all families, you know) — the case is, 
that a party of friends are invited to pay a visit at Enscombe 
in January, and that Frank's coming depends upon their 
being put off. If they are not put off, he cannot stir. But 
I know they will, because it is a family that a certain lady, 
of some consequence at Enscombe, has a particular dislike to ; 
and though it is thought necessary to invite them once in two 
or three years, they always are put off when it comes to the 
point. I have not the smallest doubt of the issue. I am as 
confident of seeing Frank here before the middle of January, 
as I am of being here myself; but your good friend there 
(nodding towards the upper end of the table) has so few 
vagaries herself, and has been so little used to them at Hart- 
field, that she cannot calculate on their effects, as I have been 
long in the practice of doing.' 

' I am sorry there should be anything like doubt in the case,' 
replied Emma ; ' but am disposed to side with you, Mr. 
Weston. If you think he will come, I shall think so too ; for 
you know Enscombe.' 

' Yes — I have some right to that knowledge ; though I have 
never been at the place in my life. She is an odd woman ! 
But I never allow myself to speak ill of her, on Frank's 
account ; for I do believe her to be very fond of him. I used 
to think she was not capable of being fond of anybody except 
herself; but she has always been kind to him (in her way — 
allowing for little whims and caprices, and expecting everything 

106 



EMMA 

to be as she likes). And it is no small credit, in my opinion, to 
him that he should excite such an affection ; for, though I 
would not say it to anybody else, she has no more heart than a 
stone to people in general, and the devil of a temper.' 

Emma liked the subject so well that she began upon it to 
Mrs. Weston, very soon after their moving into the drawing- 
room ; wishing her joy — yet observing, that she knew the 
first meeting must be rather alarming. Mrs. Weston agreed 
to it ; but added that she should be very glad to be secure of 
undergoing the anxiety of a first meeting at the time talked of; 
'for I cannot depend upon his coming. I cannot be so 
sanguine as Mr. Weston. I am very much afraid that it will 
all end in nothing. Mr. Weston, I daresay, has been telling 
you exactly how the matter stands.' 

* Yes — it seems to depend upon nothing but the ill-humour 
of Mrs. Churchill, which I imagine to be the most certain 
thing in the world.' 

* My Emma ! ' replied Mrs. Weston, smiling, ' what is the 
certainty of caprice?' Then turning to Isabella, who had not 
been attending before, — 'You must know, my dear Mrs. 
Knightley, that we are by no means so sure of seeing Mr. 
Frank Churchill, in my opinion, as his father thinks. It 
depends entirely upon his aunt's spirits and pleasure ; in short, 
upon her temper. To you — to my two daughters — I may 
venture on the truth. Mrs. Churchill rules at Enscombe, and 
is a very odd-tempered woman ; and his coming now depends 
upon her being willing to spare him.' 

'Oh, Mrs. Churchill, everybody knows Mrs. Churchill,' 
replied Isabella ; ' and I am sure I never think of that poor 
young man without the greatest compassion. To be constantly 
living with an ill-tempered person must be dreadful. It is 
what we happily have never known anything of; but it must 
be a life of misery. What a blessing that she never had any 
children ! Poor little creatures, how unhappy she would have 
made them ! ' 

Emma wished she had been alone with Mrs. Weston. She 
should then have heard more ; Mrs. Weston would speak to 
her with a degree of unreserve which she would not hazard 
with Isabella ; and, she really believed, would scarcely try to 
conceal anything relative to the Churchills from her, excepting 
those views on the young man, of which her own imagination 

107 



EMMA 

had already given her such instinctive knowledge. But at 
present there was nothing more to be said. Mr. Woodhouse 
very soon followed them into the drawing-room. To be sitting 
long after dinner was a confinement that he could not endure. 
Neither wine nor conversation was anything to him ; and 
gladly did he move to those with whom he was always com- 
fortable. 

While he talked to Isabella, however, Emma found an 
opportunity of saying — 

' And so you do not consider this visit from your son as by 
any means certain. I am sorry for it. The introduction must 
be unpleasant, whenever it takes place ; and the sooner it could 
be over the better. 

' Yes ; and every delay makes one more apprehensive of 
other delays. Even if this family, the Braithwaites, are put off, 
I am still afraid that some excuse may be found for disap- 
pointing us. I cannot bear to imagine any reluctance on his 
side ; but I am sure there is a great wish on the Churchills to 
keep him to themselves. There is jealousy. They are jealous 
even of his regard for his father. In short, I can feel no de- 
pendence on his coming, and I wish Mr. Weston were less 
sanguine.' 

' He ought to come,' said Emma. ' If he could stay only 
a couple of days, he ought to come ; and one can hardly con- 
ceive a young man's not having it in his power to do as much 
as that. A young woman, if she fall into bad hands, may be 
teased, and kept at a distance from those she wants to be with ; 
but one cannot comprehend a young tnan^s being under such 
restraint, as not to be able to spend a week with his father, if 
he likes it.' 

* One ought to be at Enscombe, and know the ways of the 
family, before one decides upon what he can do,' replied Mrs. 
Weston. ' One ought to use the same caution, perhaps, in 
judging of the conduct of any one individual of any one family ; 
but Enscombe, I believe, certainly must not be judged by 
general rules : she is so very unreasonable, and everything 
gives way to her.' 

' But she is so fond of the nephew ; he is so very great a 
favourite. Now, according to my idea of Mrs. Churchill, it 
would be most natural, that while she makes no sacrifice for 
the comfort of the husband, to whom she owes everything, 

io8 



EMMA 

while she exercises incessant caprice towards him^ she should 
frequently be governed by the nephew, to whom she owes 
nothing at all.' 

' My dearest Emma, do not pretend, with your sweet temper, 
to understand a bad one, or to lay down rules for it ; you must 
let it go its own way. I have no doubt of his having, at times, 
considerable influence ; but it may be perfectly impossible for 
him to know beforehand when it will be.' 

Emma listened, and then coolly said, ' I shall not be 
satisfied unless he comes.' 

' He may have a great deal of influence on some points,' 
continued Mrs. Weston, ' and on others very little ; and 
among those on which she is beyond his reach it is but too 
likely may be this very circumstance of his coming away from 
them to visit us.' 



CHAPTER XV 

Mr. Woodhouse was soon ready for his tea ; and when he 
had drank his tea he was quite ready to go home ; and it was 
as much as his three companions could do to entertain away 
his notice of the lateness of the hour, before the other gentlemen 
appeared. Mr. Weston was chatty and convivial and no friend 
to early separations of any sort ; but at last the drawing-room 
party did receive an augmentation. Mr. Elton, in very good 
spirits, was one of the first to walk in. Mrs. Weston and 
Emma were sitting together on a sofa. He joined them 
immediately, and, with scarcely an invitation, seated himself 
between them. 

Emma, in good spirits too, from the amusement afforded 
her mind by the expectation of Mr. Frank Churchill, was willing 
to forget his late improprieties, and be as well satisfied with 
him as before, and on his making Harriet his very first subject, 
was ready to listen with most friendly smiles. 

He professed himself extremely anxious about her fair 
friend — her fair, lovely, amiable friend. ' Did she know ? — 
had she heard anything about her, since their being at Randalls ? 
— he felt much anxiety — he must confess that the nature of her 

109 



EMMA 

complaint alarmed him considerably.' And in this style he 
talked on for some time very properly, not much attending to 
any answer, but altogether sufficiently awake to the terror of a 
bad sore throat ; and Emma was quite in charity with him. 

But at last there seemed a perverse turn ; it seemed all at 
once as if he were more afraid of its being a bad sore throat 
on her account than on Harriet's — more anxious that she 
should escape the infection than that there should be no 
infection in the complaint. He began with great earnestness 
to entreat her to refrain from visiting the sick chamber again, 
for the present — to entreat her to proinise him not to venture 
into such hazard till he had seen Mr. Perry and learned his 
opinion ; and though she tried to laugh it off and bring the 
subject back into its proper course, there was no putting an 
end to his extreme solicitude about her. She was vexed. It 
did appear — there was no concealing it — exactly like the 
pretence of being in love with her, instead of Harriet ; an 
inconstancy, if real, the most contemptible and abominable ! 
and she had difficulty in behaving with temper. He turned 
to Mrs. Weston to implore her assistance : ' Would not she 
give him her support ? — would not she add her persuasions to 
his, to induce Miss Woodhouse not to go to Mrs. Goddard's 
till it were certain that Miss Smith's disorder had no infection ? 
He could not be satisfied without a promise — would not she 
give him her influence in procuring it ? ' 

' So scrupulous for others,' he continued, ' and yet so careless 
for herself? She wanted me to nurse my cold by staying at 
home to-day, and yet will not promise to avoid the danger of 
catching an ulcerated sore throat herself. Is this fair, Mrs. 
Weston ? Judge between us. Have not I some right to 
complain ? I am sure of your kind support and aid.' 

Emma saw Mrs. Weston's surprise, and felt that it must 
be great, at an address which, in words and manner, was 
assuming to himself the right of first interest in her ; and as 
for herself, she was too much provoked and offended to have 
the power of directly saying anything to the purpose. She 
could only give him a look ; but it was such a look as she 
thought must restore him to his senses ; and then left the 
sofa, removing to a seat by her sister, and giving her all her 
attention. 

She had not time to know how Mr. Elton took the re- 



/ 




* Is this fair, Mrs. Weston^.' 



EMMA 

proof, so rapidly did another subject succeed ; for Mr. John 
Knightley now came into the room from examining the 
weather, and opened on them all with the information of the 
ground being covered with snow, and of its still snowing fast, 
with a strong drifting wind ; concluding with these words to 
Mr. Woodhouse — 

' This will prove a spirited beginning of your winter engage- 
ments, sir. Something new for your coachman and horses to 
be making their way through a storm of snow.' 

Poor Mr. Woodhouse was silent from consternation ; but 
everybody else had something to say ; everybody was either 
surprised, or not surprised, and had some question to ask, or 
some comfort to offer. Mrs. Weston and Emma tried earnestly 
to cheer him and turn his attention from his son-in-law, who 
was pursuing his triumph rather unfeelingly. 

' I admired your resolution very much, sir,' said he, ' in 
venturing out in such weather, for of course you saw there 
would be snow very soon. Everybody must have seen the 
snow coming on. I admired your spirit ; and I daresay we 
shall get home very well. Another hour or two's snow can 
hardly make the road impassable ; and we are two carriages ; 
if one is blown over in the bleak part of the common field 
there will be the other at hand. I daresay we shall be all safe 
at Hartfield before midnight.' 

Mr. Weston, with triumph of a different sort, was con- 
fessing that he had known it to be snowing some time, but 
had not said a word, lest it should make Mr. Woodhouse 
uncomfortable, and be an excuse for his hurrying away. As to 
there being any quantity of snow fallen or likely to fall to impede 
their return, that was a mere joke ; he was afraid they would 
find no difficulty. He wished the road might be impassable, 
that he might be able to keep them all at Randalls ; and with 
the utmost goodwill was sure that accommodation might be 
found for everybody, calling on his wife to agree with him, 
that, with a little contrivance, everybody might be lodged, 
which she hardly knew how to do, from the consciousness of 
there being but two spare rooms in the house. 

' What is to be done, my dear Emma ? what is to be done ? ' 
was Mr. Woodhouse's first exclamation, and all that he could 
say for some time. To her he looked for comfort ; and her 
assurances of safety, her representation of the excellence of 

112 



EMMA 

the horses, and of James, and of their having so many friends 
about them, revived him a Httle. 

His eldest daughter's alarm was equal to his own. The 
horror of being blocked up at Randalls, while her children 
were at Hartfield, was full in her imagination ; and fancying 
the road to be now just passable for adventurous people, but 
in a state that admitted no delay, she was eager to have it 
settled, that her father and Emma should remain at Randalls, 
while she and her husband set forward instantly through all 
the possible accumulations of drifted snow that might impede 
them. 

* You had better order the carriage directly, my love,' said 
she ; ' I daresay we shall be able to get along, if we set off 
directly ; and if we do come to anything very bad, I can get 
out and walk. I am not at all afraid. I should not mind 
walking half the way. I could change my shoes, you know, 
the moment I got home ; and it is not the sort of thing that 
gives me cold.' 

'Indeed!' replied he. 'Then, my dear Isabella, it is the 
most extraordinary sort of thing in the world, for in general 
everything does give you cold. Walk home ! — you are prettily 
shod for walking home, I daresay. It will be bad enough 
for the horses.' 

Isabella turned to Mrs. Weston for her approbation of the 
plan. Mrs. Weston could only approve. Isabella then went 
to Emma ; but Emma could not so entirely give up the hope 
of their being all able to get away; and they were still discussing 
the point, when Mr. Knightley, who had left the room imme- 
diately after his brother's first report of the snow, came back 
again, and told them that he had been out of doors to examine, 
and could answer for there not being the smallest difficulty in 
their getting home, whenever they liked it, either now or an 
hour hence. He had gone beyond the sweep — some way along 
the Highbury road — the snow was nowhere above half an inch 
deep — in many places hardly enough to whiten the ground ; a 
very few flakes were falling at present, but the clouds were 
parting, and there was every appearance of it being soon over. 
He had seen the coachmen, and they both agreed with him 
in there being nothing to apprehend. 

To Isabella the relief of such tidings was very great, and 
they were scarcely less acceptable to Emma on her father's 
I 113 



EMMA 

account, who was immediately set as much at ease on the 
subject as his nervous constitution allowed ; but the alarm that 
had been raised could not be appeased so as to admit of any 
comfort for him while he continued at Randalls. He was 
satisfied of there being no present danger in returning home, 
but no assurances could convince him that it was safe to stay ; 
and while the others were variously urging and recommending, 
Mr. Knightley and Emma settled it in a few brief sentences : 
thus — 

' Your father will not be easy ; why do not you go ? ' 

' I am ready, if the others are.' 

'Shall I ring the bell?' 

* Yes, do.' 

And the bell was rung, and the carriages spoken for. A 
few minutes more, and Emma hoped to see one troublesome 
companion deposited in his own house, to get sober and cool, 
and the other recover his temper and happiness when this visit 
of hardship were over. 

The carriage came ; and Mr. Woodhouse, always the first 
object on such occasions, was carefully attended to his own by 
Mr. Knightley and Mr. Weston ; but not all that either could 
say could prevent some renewal of alarm at the sight of the 
snow which had actually fallen, and the discovery of a much 
darker night than he had been prepared for. * He was afraid 
they should have a very bad drive. He was afraid poor Isabella 
would not like it. And there would be poor Emma in the 
carriage behind. He did not know what they had best do. 
They must keep as much together as they could ; ' and James 
was talked to, and given a charge to go very slow, and wait 
for the other carriage. 

Isabella stept in after her father ; John Knightley, forget- 
ting that he did not belong to their party, stept in after his wife 
very naturally ; so that Emma found, on being escorted and 
followed into the second carriage by Mr. Elton, that the door 
was to be lawfully shut on them, and that they were to have a 
tete-d-tete drive. It would not have been the awkwardness of 
a moment, it would have been rather a pleasure, previous to 
the suspicions of this very day ; she would have talked to him 
of Harriet, and the three quarters of a mile would have seemed 
but one. But now, she would rather it had not happened. 
She believed he had been drinking too much of Mr. Weston's 

114 



EMMA 

good wine, and felt sure that he would want to be talking 
nonsense. 

To restrain him as much as might be, by her own manners, 
she was immediately preparing to speak with exquisite calmness 
and gravity of the weather and the night ; but scarcely had 
she begun, scarcely had they passed the sweep-gate and joined 
the other carriage, than she found her subject cut up — her 
hand seized — her attention demanded, and Mr. Elton actually 
making violent love to her : availing himself of the precious 
opportunity, declaring sentiments which must be already well 
known, hoping — fearing — adoring — ready to die if she refused 
him ; but flattering himself that his ardent attachment and 
unequalled love and unexampled passion could not fail of having 
some effect, and, in short, very much resolved on being seriously 
accepted as soon as possible. It really was so. Without 
scruple — without apology — without much apparent diffidence, 
Mr. Elton, the lover of Harriet, was professing himself her 
lover. She tried to stop him ; but vainly ; he would go on, 
and say it all. Angry as she was, the thought of the moment 
made her resolve to restrain herself when she did speak. She 
felt that half this folly must be drunkenness, and therefore 
could hope that it might belong only to the passing hour. 
Accordingly, with a mixture of the serious and the playful, 
which she hoped would best suit his half and half state, she 
replied — 

' I am very much astonished, Mr. Elton. This to w^, you 
forget yourself — you take me for my friend — any message to 
Miss Smith I shall be happy to deliver ; but no more of this 
to 7ne^ if you please.' 

' Miss Smith ! — Message to Miss Smith ! — What could she 
possibly mean ! ' — And he repeated her words with such assur- 
ance of accent, such boastful pretence of amazement, that she 
could not help replying with quickness — 

' Mr. Elton, this is the most extraordinary conduct ! and I 
can account for it only in one way ; you are not yourself, or 
you could not speak either to me, or of Harriet, in such a 
manner. Command yourself enough to say no more, and I 
will endeavour to forget it.' 

But Mr. Elton had only drunk wine enough to elevate his 
spirits, not at all to confuse his intellects. He perfectly knew 
his own meaning ; and having warmly protested against her 

115 



EMMA 

suspicion as most injurious, and slightly touched upon his 
respect for Miss Smith as her friend, — but acknowledging his 
wonder that Miss Smith should be mentioned at all, — he 
resumed the subject of his own passion, and was very urgent 
for a favourable answer. 

As she thought less of his inebriety, she thought more of 
his inconstancy and presumption ; and with fewer struggles 
for politeness, replied — 

* It is impossible for me to doubt any longer. You have 
made yourself too clear. Mr. Elton, my astonishment is 
much beyond anything I can express. After such behaviour, 
as I have witnessed during the last month, to Miss Smith — 
such attentions as I have been daily in the habit of observing 
— to be addressing me in this manner — this is an unsteadiness 
of character, indeed, which I had not supposed possible ! Be- 
lieve me, sir, I am far — very far — from gratified in being the 
object of such professions.' 

' Good heaven ! ' cried Mr. Elton, ' what can be the mean- 
ing of this ? Miss Smith ! I never thought of Miss Smith 
in the whole course of my existence — never paid her any 
attentions, but as your friend ; never cared whether she were 
dead or alive, but as your friend. If she has fancied other- 
wise, her own wishes have misled her, and I am very sorry — 
extremely sorry. But, Miss Smith, indeed ! Oh, Miss Wood- 
house, who can think of Miss Smith when Miss Woodhouse is 
near? No, upon my honour, there is no unsteadiness of 
character. I have thought only of you. I protest against 
having paid the smallest attention to any one else. Every- 
thing that I have said or done, for many weeks past, has been 
with the sole view of marking my adoration of yourself. You 
cannot really, seriously doubt it. No ! (in an accent meant 
to be insinuating) I am sure you have seen and understood me. 

It would be impossible to say what Emma felt on hearing 
this, which of all her unpleasant sensations was uppermost. 
She was too completely overpowered to be immediately able 
to reply ; and two moments of silence being ample encourage- 
ment for Mr. Elton s sanguine state of mind, he tried to take 
her hand again, as he joyously exclaimed — 

* Charming Miss Woodhouse ! allow me to interpret this 
interesting silence. It confesses that you have long under- 
stood me.' 

ii6 



EMMA 

*No, sir,' cried Emma, 'it confesses no such thing. So 
far from having long understood you, I have been in a most 
complete error with respect to your views till this moment. 
As to myself I am very sorry that you should have been giving 

way to any feelings Nothing could be further from my 

wishes — your attachment to my friend Harriet — your pursuit of 
her (pursuit it appeared) — gave me great pleasure, and I have 
been very earnestly wishing you success ; but had I supposed 
that she were not your attraction to Hartfield, I should certainly 
have thought you judged ill in making your visits so frequent. 
Am I to believe that you have never sought to recommend 
yourself particularly to Miss Smith ? that you have never 
thought seriously of her ? ' 

* Never, madam,' cried he, affronted in his turn ; ' never, 
I assure you. / think seriously of Miss Smith ! — Miss Smith 
is a very good sort of girl ; and I should be happy to see her 
respectably settled. I wish her extremely well ; and no doubt 

there are men who might not object to Everybody has 

their level ; but as for myself, I am not, I think, quite so much 
at a loss. I need not so totally despair of an equal alliance as 
to be addressing myself to Miss Smith ! No, madam, my 
visits to Hartfield have been for yourself only ; and the encourage- 
ment I received ' 

' Encouragement ! I give you encouragement ! — sir, you 
have been entirely mistaken in supposing it. I have seen you 
only as the admirer of my friend. In no other light could 
you have been more to me than a common acquaintance. I 
am exceedingly sorry ; but it is well that the mistake ends 
where it does. Had the same behaviour continued. Miss Smith 
might have been led into a misconception of your views ; not 
being aware, probably, any more than myself of the very 
great inequality which you are so sensible of. But, as it is, 
the disappointment is single, and, I trust, will not be lasting. 
I have no thoughts of matrimony at present.' 

He was too angry to say another word ; her manner too 
decided to invite supplication : and in this state of swelling 
resentment, and mutually deep mortification, they had to con- 
tinue together a few minutes longer, for the fears of Mr. Wood- 
house had confined them to a foot-pace. If there had not 
been so much anger, there would have been desperate awkward- 
ness ; but their straightforward emotions left no room for the 

117 



EMMA 

little zigzags of embarrassment. Without knowing when the 
carriage turned into Vicarage Lane, or when it stopped, they 
found themselves, all at once, at the door of his house ; and 
he was out before another syllable passed. Emma then felt it 
indispensable to wish him a good-night. The compliment was 
just returned, coldly and proudly ; and, under indescribable 
irritation of spirits, she was then conveyed to Hartfield. 

There she was welcomed, with the utmost delight, by her 
father, who had been trembling for the dangers of a solitary 
drive from Vicarage Lane — turning a corner which he could 
never bear to think of — and in strange hands — a mere common 
coachman — no James ; and there it seemed as if her return 
only were wanted to make everything go well ; for Mr. John 
Knightley, ashamed of his ill-humour, was now all kindness 
and attention ; and so particularly solicitous for the comfort of 
her father, as to seem — if not quite ready to join him in a 
basin of gruel — perfectly sensible of its being exceedingly 
wholesome ; and the day was concluding in peace and comfort 
to all their little party, except herself But her mind had 
never been in such perturbation ; and it needed a very strong 
effort to appear attentive and cheerful till the usual hour of 
separating allowed her the relief of quiet reflection. 



CHAPTER XVI 

The hair was curled, and the maid sent away, and Emma sat 
down to think and be miserable. It was a wretched business, 
indeed. Such an overthrow of everything she had been wish- 
ing for ! Such a development of everything most unwelcome ! 
Such a blow for Harriet ! — that was the worst of all. Every 
part of it brought pain and humiliation of some sort or other ; 
but, compared with the evil to Harriet, all was light ; and she 
would gladly have submitted to feel yet more mistaken — more 
in error — more disgraced by misjudgment than she actually 
was, — could the effects of her blunders have been confined to 
herself. 

' If I had not persuaded Harriet into liking the man, I 
ii8 



EMMA 

could have borne anything. He might have doubled his pre- 
sumption to me — but poor Harriet ! ' 

How she could have been so deceived ! He protested that 
he had never thought seriously of Harriet — never ! She 
looked back as well as she could ; but it was all confusion. 
She had taken up the idea, she supposed, and made every- 
thing bend to it. His manners, however, must have been 
unmarked, wavering, dubious, or she could not have been so 
misled. 

The picture ! How eager he had been about the picture ! 
— and the charade ! — and a hundred other circumstances ; — 
how clearly they had seemed to point at Harriet. To be sure, 
the charade, with its 'ready wit' — but then the 'soft eyes,' 
— in fact, it suited neither ; it was a jumble without taste 
or truth. Who could have seen through such thick-headed 
nonsense ? 

Certainly she had often, especially of late, thought his 
manners to herself unnecessarily gallant ; but it had passed as 
his way, as a mere error of judgment, of knowledge, of taste, 
as one proof, among others, that he had not always lived in 
the best society ; that with all the gentleness of his address, 
true elegance was sometimes wanting ; but, till this very day, 
she had never for an instant suspected it to mean anything but 
grateful respect to her as Harriet's friend. 

To Mr. John Knightley was she indebted for her first idea 
on the subject, for the first start of its possibility. There was 
no denying that those brothers had penetration. She remem- 
bered what Mr. Knightley had once said to her about Mr. 
Elton, the caution he had given, the conviction he had pro- 
fessed that Mr. Elton would never marry indiscreetly ; and 
blushed to think how much truer a knowledge of his character 
had been there shown than any she had reached herself. It 
was dreadfully mortifying ; but Mr. Elton was proving himself, 
in many respects, the very reverse of what she had meant and 
believed him ; proud, assuming, conceited : very full of his own 
claims, and little concerned about the feelings of others. 

Contrary to the usual course of things, Mr. Elton's wanting 
to pay his addresses to her had sunk him in her opinion. His 
professions and his proposals did him no service. She thought 
nothing of his attachment, and was insulted by his hopes. He 
wanted to marry well, and having the arrogance to raise his 

119 



EMMA 

eyes to her, pretended to be in love ; but she was perfectly 
easy as to his not suffering any disappointment that need be 
cared for. There had been no real affection either in his 
language or manners. Sighs and fine words had been given 
in abundance ; but she could hardly devise any set of expres- 
sions, or fancy any tone of voice, less allied with real love. 
She need not trouble herself to pity him. He only wanted to 
aggrandise and enrich himself; and if Miss Woodhouse of 
Hartfield, the heiress of thirty thousand pounds, were not quite 
so easily obtained as he had fancied, he would soon try for 
Miss Somebody else with twenty, or with ten. 

But, that he should talk of encouragement, should consider 
her as aware of his views, accepting his intentions, meaning, 
in short, to marry him ! — should suppose himself her equal in 
connection or mind ! — look down upon her friend, so well 
understanding the gradations of rank below him, and be so 
blind to what rose above, as to fancy himself showing no pre- 
sumption in addressing her ! — it was most provoking. 

Perhaps it was not fair to expect him to feel how very much 
he was her inferior in talent, and all the elegancies of mind. 
The very want of such equality might prevent his perception 
of it ; but he must know that in fortune and consequence she 
was greatly his superior. He must know that the Woodhouses 
had been settled for several generations at Hartfield, the 
younger branch of a very ancient family, — and that the Eltons 
were nobody. The landed property of Hartfield certainly was 
inconsiderable, being but a sort of notch in the Donwell Abbey 
estate, to which all the rest of Highbury belonged ; but their 
fortune, from other sources, was such as to make them scarcely 
secondary to Donwell Abbey itself in every other kind of con- 
sequence ; and the Woodhouses had long held a high place in 
the consideration of the neighbourhood which Mr. Elton had 
first entered not two years ago, to make his way as he could, 
without any alliances but in trade, or anything to recommend 
him to notice but his situation and his civility. But he had 
fancied her in love with him ; that evidently must have been 
his dependence ; and after raving a little about the seeming 
incongruity of gentle manners and a conceited head, Emma 
was obliged, in common honesty, to stop and admit that her 
own behaviour to him had been so complaisant and obliging, 
so full of courtesy and attention, as (supposing her real motive 

I20 



EMMA 

unperceived) might warrant a man of ordinary observation and 
delicacy, like Mr. Elton, in fancying himself a very decided 
favourite. If she had so misinterpreted his feelings, she had 
little right to wonder that he^ with self-interest to blind him, 
should have mistaken hers. 

The first error, and the worst, lay at her door. It was 
foolish, it was wrong, to take so active a part in bringing any 
two people together. It was adventuring too far, assuming 
too much, making light of what ought to be serious, a trick 
of what ought to be simple. She was quite concerned and 
ashamed, and resolved to do such things no more. 

' Here have I,' said she, ' actually talked poor Harriet into 
being very much attached to this man. She might never have 
thought of him but for me ; and certainly never would have 
thought of him with hope, if I had not assured her of his 
attachment, for she is as modest and humble as I used to 
think him. Oh that I had been satisfied with persuading her 
not to accept young Martin ! There I was quite right : that 
was well done of me ; but there I should have stopped, and 
left the rest to time and chance. I was introducing her into 
good company, and giving her the opportunity of pleasing 
some one worth having ; I ought not to have attempted more. 
But now, poor girl, her peace is cut up for some time. I have 
been but half a friend to her ; and if she were not to feel this 
disappointment so very much, I am sure I have not an idea 
of anybody else who would be at all desirable for her : — 
William Coxe — oh no, I could not endure William Coxe, — a 
pert young lawyer.' 

She stopped to blush and laugh at her own relapse, and 
then resumed a more serious, more dispiriting cogitation upon 
what had been, and might be, and must be. The distressing 
explanation she had to make to Harriet, and all that poor 
Harriet would be suffering, with the awkwardness of future 
meetings, the difficulties of continuing or discontinuing the 
acquaintance, of subduing feelings, concealing resentment, and 
avoiding cclat^ were enough to occupy her in most unmirthful 
reflections some time longer, and she went to bed at last with 
nothing settled but the conviction of her having blundered 
most dreadfully. 

To youth and natural cheerfulness like Emma's, though 
under temporary gloom at night, the return of day will hardly 

122 



EMMA 

fail to bring return of spirits. The youth and cheerfulness of 
morning are in happy analogy, and of powerful operation ; and 
if the distress be not poignant enough to keep the eyes un- 
closed, they will be sure to open to sensations of softened pain 
and brighter hope. 

Emma got up on the morrow more disposed for comfort 
than she had gone to bed ; more ready to see alleviations of the 
evil before her, and to depend on getting tolerably out of it. 

It was a great consolation that Mr. Elton should not be 
really in love with her, or so particularly amiable as to make 
it shocking to disappoint him ; that Harriet's nature should 
not be of that superior sort in which the feelings are most 
acute and retentive ; and that there could be no necessity for 
anybody's knowing what had passed except the three prin- 
cipals, and especially for her father's being given a moment's 
uneasiness about it. 

These were very cheering thoughts ; and the sight of a 
great deal of snow on the ground did her further service, for 
anything was welcome that might justify their all three being 
quite asunder at present. 

The weather was most favourable for her ; though Christ- 
mas Day, she could not go to church. Mr. Woodhouse would 
have been miserable had his daughter attempted it, and she 
was therefore safe from either exciting or receiving unpleasant 
and most unsuitable ideas. The ground covered with snow, 
and the atmosphere in that unsettled state between frost and 
thaw, which is of all others the most unfriendly for exercise, 
every morning beginning in rain or snow, and every evening 
setting in to freeze, she was for many days a most honourable 
prisoner. No intercourse with Harriet possible but by note ; 
no church for her on Sunday any more than on Christmas Day ; 
and no need to find excuses for Mr. Elton's absenting himself. 

It was weather which might fairly confine everybody at 
home ; and though she hoped and believed him to be really 
taking comfort in some society or other, it was very pleasant 
to have her father so well satisfied with his being all alone in 
his own house, too wise to stir out, and to hear him say to 
Mr. Knightley, whom no weather could keep entirely from 
them — 

*Ah, Mr. Knightley, why do not you stay at home like 
poor Mr. Elton ? ' 

J23 



EMMA 

These days of confinement would have been, but for her 
private perplexities, remarkably comfortable, as such seclusion 
exactly suited her brother, whose feelings must always be of 
great importance to his companions ; and he had, besides, so 
thoroughly cleared off his ill-humour at Randalls, that his 
amiableness never failed him during the rest of his stay at 
Hartfield. He was always agreeable and obliging, and speak- 
ing pleasantly of everybody. But with all the hopes of cheer- 
fulness, and all the present comfort of delay, there was still 
such an evil hanging over her in the hour of explanation with 
Harriet, as made it impossible for Emma to be ever perfectly 
at ease. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley were not detained long at 
Hartfield. The weather soon improved enough for those to 
move who must move ; and Mr. Woodhouse having, as usual, 
tried to persuade his daughter to stay behind with all her 
children, was obliged to see the whole party set off, and 
returned to his lamentations over the destiny of poor Isabella ; 
— which poor Isabella, passing her life with those she doted 
on, full of their merits, blind to their faults, and always in- 
nocently busy, might have been a model of right feminine 
happiness. 

The evening of the very day on which they went brought 
a note from Mr. Elton to Mr. Woodhouse, a long, civil, 
ceremonious note, to say, with Mr. Elton's best compliments, 
'that he was proposing to leave Highbury the following 
morning in his way to Bath, where, in compliance with the 
pressing entreaties of some friends, he had engaged to spend 
a few weeks ; and very much regretted the impossibility he 
was under, from various circumstances of weather and busi- 
ness, of taking a personal leave of Mr. Woodhouse, of whose 
friendly civilities he should ever retain a grateful sense ; and 
had Mr. Woodhouse any commands, should be happy to 
attend to them.' 

Emma was most agreeably surprised. Mr. Elton's absence 
just at this time was the very thing to be desired. She 

124 



EMMA 

admired him for contriving it, though not able to give him 
much credit for the manner in which it was announced. 
Resentment could not have been more plainly spoken than 
in a civility to her father, from which she was so pointedly 
excluded. She had not even a share in his opening com- 
pliments. Her name was not mentioned ; and there was so 
striking a change in all this, and such an ill-judged solemnity of 
leave-taking in his grateful acknowledgments, as she thought, 
at first, could not escape her father's suspicion. 

It did, however. Her father was quite taken up with the 
surprise of so sudden a journey, and his fears that Mr. Elton 
might never get safely to the end of it, and saw nothing 
extraordinary in his language. It was a very useful note, 
for it supplied them with fresh matter for thought and 
conversation during the rest of their lonely evening. Mr. 
Woodhouse talked over his alarms, and Emma was in spirits 
to persuade them away with all her usual promptitude. 

She now resolved to keep Harriet no longer in the dark. 
She had reason to believe her nearly recovered from her cold, 
and it was desirable that she should have as much time as 
possible for getting the better of her other complaint before 
the gentleman's return. She went to Mrs. Goddard's accord- 
ingly the very next day, to undergo the necessary penance of 
communication ; and a severe one it was. She had to destroy 
all the hopes which she had been so industriously feeding, to 
appear in the ungracious character of the one preferred, and 
acknowledge herself grossly mistaken and misjudging in all 
her ideas on one subject, all her observations, all her convic- 
tions, all her prophecies for the last six weeks. 

The confession completely renewed her first shame, and 
the sight of Harriet's tears made her think that she should 
never be in charity with herself again. 

Harriet bore the intelligence very well, blaming nobody, 
and in everything testifying such an ingenuousness of dis- 
position and lowly opinion of herself, as must appear with 
particular advantage at that moment to her friend. 

Emma was in the humour to value simplicity and modesty 
to the utmost ; and all that was amiable, all that ought to be 
attaching, seemed on Harriet's side, not her own. Harriet 
did not consider herself as having anything to complain of. 
The affection of such a man as Mr. Elton would have been 

125 



EMMA 

too great a distinction. She never could have deserved him ; 
and nobody but so partial and kind a friend as Miss Wood- 
house would have thought it possible. 

Her tears fell abundantly ; but her grief was so truly artless, 
that no dignity could have made it more respectable in 
Emma's eyes ; and she Hstened to her, and tried to console 
her with all her heart and understanding, — really for the time 
convinced that Harriet was the superior creature of the two, 
and that to resemble her would be more for her own welfare 
and happiness than all that genius or intelligence could do. 

It was rather too late in the day to set about being simple- 
minded and ignorant ; but she left her with every previous 
resolution confirmed of being humble and discreet, and re- 
pressing imagination all the rest of her life. Her second 
duty now, inferior only to her father's claims, was to promote 
Harriet's comfort, and endeavour to prove her own affection 
in some better method than by match-making. She got her 
to Hartfield, and showed her the most unvarying kindness, 
striving to occupy and amuse her, and by books and conver- 
sation to drive Mr. Elton from her thoughts. 

Time, she knew, must be allowed for this being thoroughly 
done ; and she could suppose herself but an indifferent judge 
of such matters in general, and very inadequate to sympathise 
in an attachment to Mr. Elton in particular ; but it seemed to 
her reasonable that at Harriet's age, and with the entire 
extinction of all hope, such a progress might be made towards 
a state of composure by the time of Mr. Elton's return, as to 
allow them all to meet again in the common routine of 
acquaintance, without any danger of betraying sentiments or 
increasing them. 

Harriet did think him all perfection, and maintain the non- 
existence of anybody equal to him in person or goodness, and 
did, in truth, prove herself more resolutely in love than Emma 
had foreseen ; but yet it appeared to her so natural, so inevit- 
able to strive against an inclination of that sort unrequited, 
that she could not comprehend its continuing very long in 
equal force. 

If Mr. Elton, on his return, made his own indifference as 
evident and indubitable as she could not doubt he would 
anxiously do, she could not imagine Harriet's persisting to 
place her happiness in the sight or the recollection of him. 

126 



EMMA 

Their being fixed, so absolutely fixed, in the same place, 
was bad for each, for all three. Not one of them had the 
power of removal, or of effecting any material change of 
society. They must encounter each other, and make the best 
of it. 

Harriet was further unfortunate in the tone of her com- 
panions at Mrs. Goddard's, Mr. Elton being the adoration of 
all the teachers and great girls in the school ; and it must be 
at Hartfield only that she could have any chance of hearing 
him spoken of with cooling moderation or repellent truth. 
Where the wound had been given, there must the cure be 
found, if anywhere ; and Emma felt that, till she saw her in 
the way of cure, there could be no true peace for herself 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Mr. Frank Churchill did not come. When the time pro- 
posed drew near, Mrs. Weston's fears were justified in the 
arrival of a letter of excuse. For the present, he could not be 
spared, to his ' very great mortification and regret ; but still 
he looked forward with the hope of coming to Randalls at no 
distant period.' 

Mrs. Weston was exceedingly disappointed, — much more 
disappointed, in fact, than her husband, though her dependence 
on seeing the young man had been so much more sober ; but 
a sanguine temper, though for ever expecting more good than 
occurs, does not always pay for its hopes by any proportionate 
depression. It soon flies over the present failure, and begins 
to hope again. For half an hour Mr. Weston was surprised 
and sorry ; but then he began to perceive that Frank's coming 
two or three months later would be a much better plan, better 
time of year, better weather ; and that he would be able, with- 
out any doubt, to stay considerably longer with them than if 
he had come sooner. 

These feelings rapidly restored his comfort, while Mrs. 
Weston, of a more apprehensive disposition, foresaw nothing 
but a repetition of excuses and delays ; and after all her concern 
for what her husband was to suffer, suffered a great deal more 
herself. 

127 



EMMA 

Emma was not at this time in a state of spirits to care 
really about Mr. Frank Churchill's not coming, except as a 
disappointment at Randalls. The acquaintance, at present, 
had no charm for her. She wanted, rather, to be quiet and 
out of temptation ; but still as it was desirable that she should 
appear, in general, like her usual self, she took care to express 
as much interest in the circumstance, and enter as warmly 
into Mr. and Mrs. Weston's disappointment as might naturally 
belong to their friendship. 

She was the first to announce it to Mr. Knightley ; and ex- 
claimed quite as much as was necessary (or, being acting a 
part, perhaps rather more) at the conduct of the Churchills 
in keeping him away. She then proceeded to say a good deal 
more than she felt of the advantage of such an addition to 
their confined society in Surrey ; the pleasure of looking at 
somebody new ; the gala day to Highbury entire, which the 
sight of him would have made ; and ending with reflections on 
the Churchills again, found herself directly involved in a dis- 
agreement with Mr. Knightley ; and, to her great amusement, 
perceived that she was taking the other side of the question 
from her real opinion, and making use of Mrs. Weston's 
arguments against herself. 

' The Churchills are very likely in fault,' said Mr. 
Knightley coolly ; ' but I daresay he might come if he would.' 

' I do not know why you- should say so. He wishes ex- 
ceedingly to come ; but his uncle and aunt will not spare 
him.' 

' I cannot believe that he has not the power of coming, if 
he made a point of it. It is too unlikely for me to believe it 
without proof.' 

' How odd you are ! What has Mr. Frank Churchill done 
to make you suppose him such an unnatural creature ? ' 

' I am not supposing him at all an unnatural creature, in 
suspecting that he may have learned to be above his connec- 
tions, and to care very little for anything but his own pleasure, 
from living with those who have always set him the example of 
it. It is a great deal more natural than one could wish, that 
a young man, brought up by those who are proud, luxurious, 
and selfish, should be proud, luxurious, and selfish too. If 
Frank Churchill had wanted to see his father, he would have 
contrived it between September and January. A man at his 

128 



EMMA 

age, — what is he? — three or four and twenty — cannot be 
without the means of doing as much as that. It is impos- 
sible.' 

' That's easily said, and easily felt by you, who have always 
been your own master. You are the worst judge in the world, 
Mr. Knightley, of the difficulties of dependence. You do not 
know what it is to have tempers to manage.' 

' It is not to be conceived that a man of three or four and 
twenty should not have liberty of mind or limb to that amount. 
He cannot want money, he cannot want leisure. We know, 
on the contrary, that he has so much of both that he is glad 
to get rid of them at the idlest haunts in the kingdom. We 
hear of him for ever at some watering-place or other ; a little 
while ago he was at Weymouth. This proves that he can 
leave the Churchills.' 

' Yes, sometimes he can.' 

*And those times are, whenever he thinks it worth his 
while — whenever there is any temptation of pleasure.' 

It is very unfair to judge of anybody's conduct without an 
intimate knowledge of their situation. Nobody who has not 
been in the interior of a family can say what the difficulties of 
any individual of that family may be. We ought to be ac- 
quainted with Enscombe, and with Mrs. Churchill's temper, 
before we pretend to decide with what her nephew can do. He 
may, at times, be able to do a great deal more than he can at 
others.' 

' There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do if 
he chooses, and that is, his duty — not by manoeuvring and 
finessing, but by vigour and resolution. It is Frank Churchill's 
duty to pay this attention to his father. He knows it to be 
so, by his promises and messages ; but if he wished to do it, it 
might be done. A man who felt rightly would say at once, 
simply and resolutely, to Mrs. Churchill, " Every sacrifice of 
mere pleasure you will always find me ready to make to your 
convenience ; but I must go and see my father immediately. 
I know he would be hurt by my failing in such a mark of 
respect to him on the present occasion. I shall, therefore, set 
off to-morrow." If he would say so to her at once, in the tone 
of decision becoming a man, there would be no opposition 
made to his going.' 

'No,' said Emma laughing ; 'but perhaps there might be 
K 129 



EMMA 

some made to his coming back again. Such language for a 
young man entirely dependent to use ! Nobody but you, Mr. 
Knightley, would imagine it possible ; but you have not an 
idea of what is requisite in situations directly opposite to your 
own. Mr. Frank Churchill to be making such a speech as 
that to the uncle and aunt who have brought him up, and are 
to provide for him ! — standing up in the middle of the room, I 
suppose, and speaking as loud as he could. How can you 
imagine such conduct practicable ? ' 

' Depend upon it, Emma, a sensible man would find no 
difficulty in it. He would feel himself in the right ; and the 
declaration, — made, of course, as a man of sense would make 
it, in a proper manner, — would do him more good, raise him 
higher, fix his interest stronger with the people he depended 
on, than all that a line of shifts and expedients can ever do. 
Respect would be added to affection. They would feel that 
they could trust him ; that the nephew who had done rightly 
by his father would do rightly by them ; for they know, as well 
as he does, — as well as all the world must know, — that he 
ought to pay this visit to his father ; and while meanly exerting 
their power to delay it are in their hearts not thinking the better 
of him for submitting to their whims. Respect for right 
conduct is felt by everybody. If he would act in this sort 
of manner, on principle, consistently, regularly, their little 
minds would bend to his.' 

' I rather doubt that. You are very fond of bending little 
minds ; but where little minds belong to rich people in 
authority, I think they have a knack of swelling out, till they 
are quite as unmanageable as great ones. I can imagine that 
if you, as you are, Mr. Knightley, were to be transported and 
placed all at once in Mr. Frank Churchill's situation, you would 
be able to say and do just what you have been recommend- 
ing for him ; and it might have a very good effect. The 
Churchills might not have a word to say in return ; but then 
you would have no habits of early obedience and long ob- 
servance to break through. To him who has, it might not 
be so easy to burst forth at once into perfect independence, 
and set all their claims on his gratitude and regard at naught. 
He may have as strong a sense of what would be right as you 
can have, without being so equal, under particular circum- 
stances, to act up to it.' 

130 



EMMA 

' Then, it would not be so strong a sense. If it failed to 
produce equal exertion, it could not be an equal conviction.' 

' Oh, the difference of situation and habit ! I wish you 
would try to understand what an amiable young man may be 
likely to feel in directly opposing those whom, as child and 
boy, he has been looking up to all his life.' 

'Your amiable young man is a very weak young man, if 
this be the first occasion of his carrying through a resolution 
to do right against the will of others. It ought to have been 
a habit with him, by this time, of following his duty, instead 
of consulting expediency. I can allow for the fears of the 
child, but not of the man. As he became rational, he ought 
to have roused himself, and shaken off all that was unworthy 
in their authority. He ought to have opposed the first attempt 
on their side to make him slight his father. Had he begun as 
he ought, there would have been no difficulty now,' 

' We shall never agree about him,' cried Emma ; ' but that 
is nothing extraordinary. I have not the least idea of his 
being a weak young man ; I feel sure that he is not. Mr. 
Weston would not be blind to folly, though in his own son ; 
but he is very likely to have a more yielding, complying, mild 
disposition than would suit your notions of man's perfection. 
I daresay he has ; and though it may cut him off from some 
advantages, it will secure him many others.' 

' Yes ; all the advantages of sitting still when he ought to 
move, and of leading a life of mere idle pleasure, and fancying 
himself extremely expert in finding excuses for it. He can 
sit down and write a fine flourishing letter, full of professions 
and falsehoods, and persuade himself that he has hit upon 
the very best method in the world of preserving peace at home, 
and preventing his father's having any right to complain. His 
letters disgust me.' 

' Your feelings are singular. They seem to satisfy every- 
body else.' 

' I suspect they do not satisfy Mrs. Weston. They hardly 
can satisfy a woman of her good sense and quick feelings : 
standing in a mother's place, but without a mother's affection 
to blind her. It is on her account that attention to Randalls 
is doubly due, and she must doubly feel the omission. Had 
she been a person of consequence herself, he would have 
come, I daresay ; and it would not have signified whether he 

131 



EMMA 

did or no. Can you think your friend behind-hand in these 
sort of considerations ? Do you suppose she does not often 
say all this to herself? No, Emma ; your amiable young man 
can be amiable only in French, not in English. He may be 
very " amiable," have very good manners, and be very agree- 
able ; but he can have no English delicacy towards the 
feelings of other people, — nothing really amiable about him.' 

' You seem determined to think ill of him.' 

' Me ! not at all,' replied Mr. Knightley, rather displeased ; 
' I do not want to think ill of him. I should be as ready to 
acknowledge his merits as any other man ; but I hear of none, 
except what are merely personal, — that he is well-grown 
and good-looking, with smooth, plausible manners.' 

' Well, if he have nothing else to recommend him, he will 
be a treasure at Highbury. We do not often look upon fine 
young men, well bred and agreeable. We must not be nice, 
and ask for all the virtues into the bargain. Cannot you 
imagine, Mr. Knightley, what a sensation his coming will 
produce ? There will be but one subject throughout the 
parishes of Donwell and Highbury, but one interest — one 
object of curiosity ; it will be all Mr. Frank Churchill ; we 
shall think and speak of nobody else.' 

' You will excuse my being so much overpowered. If I 
find him conversable, I shall be glad of his acquaintance ; but 
if he is only a chattering coxcomb, he will not occupy much of 
my time or thoughts.' 

* My idea of him is, that he can adapt his conversation to 
the taste of everybody, and has the power as well as the wish 
of being universally agreeable. To you, he will talk of 
farming ; to me, of drawing or music ; and so on to every- 
body, having that general information on all subjects which 
will enable him to follow the lead, or take the lead, just as 
propriety may require, and to speak extremely well on each ; 
that is my idea of him.' 

* And mine,' said Mr. Knightley warmly, ' is, that if he 
turn out anything like it, he will be the most insufferable 
fellow breathing ! What ! at three-and-twenty to be the king 
of his company — the great man — the practised politician, who 
is to read everybody's character, and make everybody's talents 
conduce to the display of his own superiority ; to be dispensing 

that he may make all appear like fools 
132 



EMMA 

compared with himself! My dear Emma, your own good 
sense could not endure such a puppy when it came to the 
point.' 

' I will say no more about him,' cried Emma, — * you turn 
everything to evil. We are both prejudiced ; you against, I 
for him ; and we have no chance of agreeing till he is really 
here.' 

* Prejudiced ! I am not prejudiced.' 

* But I am very much, and without being at all ashamed of 
it. My love for Mr. and Mrs. Weston gives me a decided 
prejudice in his favour.' 

' He is a person I never think of from one month's end to 
another,' said Mr. Knightley, with a degree of vexation which 
made Emma immediately talk of something else, though she 
could not comprehend why he should be angry. 

To take a dislike to a young man, only because he appeared 
to be of a different disposition from himself, was unworthy the 
real liberality of mind which she was always used to acknow- 
ledge in him ; for with all the high opinion of himself, which 
she had often laid to his charge, she had never before for a 
moment supposed it could make him unjust to the merit of 
another. 



CHAPTER XIX 

Emma and Harriet had been walking together one morning, 
and, in Emma's opinion, been talking enough of Mr. Elton for 
that day. She could not think that Harriet's solace or her 
own sins required more ; and she was therefore industriously 
getting rid of the subject as they returned ; — but it burst out 
again when she thought she had succeeded, and after speaking 
some time of what the poor must suffer in winter, and receiving 
no other answer than a very plaintive — ' Mr. Elton is so good 
to the poor ! ' she found something else must be done. 

They were just approaching the house where lived Mrs. 
and Miss Bates. She determined to call upon them and seek 
safety in numbers. There was always sufficient reason for 
such an attention ; Mrs. and Miss Bates loved to be called on; 
and she knew she was considered by the very few who pre- 

^33 



EMMA 

sumed ever to see imperfection in her as rather negligent in 
that respect, and as not contributing what she ought to the 
stock of their scanty comforts. 

She had had many a hint from Mr. Knightley and some 
from her own heart, as to her deficiency, but none were equal 
to counteract the persuasion of its being very disagreeable, — a 
waste of time — tiresome women — and all the horror of being 
in danger of falling in with the second-rate and third-rate of 
Highbury, who were calling on them for ever, and therefore 
she seldom went near them. But now she made the sudden 
resolution of not passing their door without going in ; observ- 
ing, as she proposed it to Harriet, that, as well as she could 
calculate, they were just now quite safe from any letter from 
Jane Fairfax. 

The house belonged to people in business. Mrs. and Miss 
Bates occupied the drawing-room floor ; and there, in the very 
moderate-sized apartment, which was everything to them, the 
visitors were most cordially and even gratefully welcomed ; 
the quiet neat old lady, who with her knitting was seated in 
the warmest corner, wanting even to give up her place to Miss 
Woodhouse, and her more active, talking daughter, almost 
ready to overpower them with care and kindness, thanks for 
their visit, solicitude for their shoes, anxious inquiries after 
Mr. Woodhouse's health, cheerful communications about her 
mother's, and sweet-cake from the buffet : — ' Mrs. Cole had 
just been there, just called in for ten minutes, and had been so 
good as to sit an hour with them, and she had taken a piece of 
cake, and been so kind as to say she liked it very much ; and, 
therefore, she hoped Miss Woodhouse and Miss Smith would 
do them the favour to eat a piece too.' 

The mention of the Coles was sure to be followed by that 
of Mr. Elton. There was intimacy between them, and Mr. 
Cole had heard from Mr. Elton since his going away. Emma 
knew what was coming ; they must have the letter over again, 
and settle how long he had been gone, and how much he was 
engaged in company, and what a favourite he was wherever 
he went, and how full the Master of the Ceremonies' ball had 
been ; and she went through it very well, with all the interest 
and all the commendation that could be requisite, and always 
putting forward to prevent Harriet's being obliged to say a 
word. 



EMMA 

This she had been prepared for when she entered the 
house ; but meant, having once talked him handsomely over, 
to be no further incommoded by any troublesome topic, and to 
wander at large amongst all the mistresses and misses of High- 
bury, and their card-parties. She had not been prepared to 
have Jane Fairfax succeed Mr. Elton ; but he was actually 
hurried off by Miss Bates ; she jumped away from him at last 
abruptly to the Coles, to usher in a letter from her niece. 

'Oh yes, — Mr. Elton, I understood, — certainly as to 
dancing, — Mrs. Cole was telling me that dancing at the rooms 
at Bath was — Mrs. Cole was so kind as to sit some time with 
us, talking of Jane ; for as soon as she came in she began 
inquiring after her, Jane is so very great a favourite there. 
Whenever she is with us, Mrs. Cole does not know how to 
show her kindness enough ; and I must say that Jane deserves 
it as much as anybody can. And so she began inquiring after 
her directly, saying, " I know you cannot have heard from Jane 
lately, because it is not her time for writing ; " and when I 
immediately said, " But indeed we have, we had a letter this 
very morning," I do not know that I ever saw anybody more 
surprised. " Have you, upon your honour ? " said she ; " well, 
that is quite unexpected. Do let me hear what she says." ' 

Emma's politeness was at hand directly, to say, with smiling 
interest — 

' Have you heard from Miss Fairfax so lately ? I am ex- 
tremely happy. I hope she is well ? ' 

' Thank you. You are so kind ! ' replied the happily de- 
ceived aunt, while eagerly hunting for the letter. ' Oh, here 
it is. I was sure it could not be far off; but I had put my 
huswife upon it, you see, without being aware, and so it was 
quite hid, but I had it in my hand so very lately that I was 
almost sure it must be on the table. I was reading it to Mrs. 
Cole, and, since she went away, I was reading it again to my 
mother, for it is such a pleasure to her — a letter from Jane — 
that she can never hear it often enough ; so I knew it could 
not be far off, and here it is, only just under my huswife, — and 
since you are so kind as to wish to hear what she says ; but, 
first of all, I really must, in justice to Jane, apologise for her 
writmg so short a letter, only two pages you see, hardly two, 
and in general she fills the whole paper and crosses half. My 
mother often wonders that I can make it out so well. She 

135 




Oh, here it is. 



EMMA 

often says, when the letter is first opened, " Well, Hetty, now 
I think you will be put to it to make out all that checker-work " 
— don't you, ma'am? And then I tell her, I am sure she 
would contrive to make it out herself, if she had nobody to do 
it for her, every word of it, — I am sure she would pore over it 
till she had made out every word. And, indeed, though my 
mother's eyes are not so good as they were, she can see 
amazingly well still, thank God ! with the help of spectacles. 
It is such a blessing ! My mother's are really very good 
indeed. Jane often says, when she is here, " I am sure, grand- 
mamma, you must have had very strong eyes to see as you do 
— and so much fine work as you have done too ! — I only wish 
my eyes may last me as well." ' 

All this spoken extremely fast obliged Miss Bates to stop 
for breath ; and Emma said something very civil about the 
excellence of Miss Fairfax's handwriting. 

* You are extremely kind,' replied Miss Bates, highly grati- 
fied ; ' you who are such a judge, and write so beautifully your- 
self. I am sure there is nobody's praise that could give us so 
much pleasure as Miss Woodhouse's. My mother does not 
hear ; she is a little deaf, you know. Ma'am,' addressing her, 
* do you hear what Miss Woodhouse is so obliging to say about 
Jane's handwriting ? ' 

And Emma had the advantage of hearing her own silly 
compliment repeated twice over before the good old lady could 
comprehend it. She was pondering, in the meanwhile, upon 
the possibility, without seeming very rude, of making her 
escape from Jane Fairfax's letter, and had almost resolved on 
hurrying away directly under some slight excuse, when Miss 
Bates turned to her again and seized her attention. 

' My mother's deafness is very trifling, you see, just nothing 
at all. By only raising my voice, and saying anything two or 
three times over, she is sure to hear ; but then she is used to 
my voice. But it is very remarkable that she should always 
hear Jane better than she does me. Jane speaks so distinct I 
However, she will not find her grandmamma at all deafer than 
she was two years ago ; which is saying a great deal at my 
mother's time of life, and it really is full two years, you know, 
since she was here. We never were so long without seeing 
her before, and as I was telling Mrs. Cole, we shall hardly 
know how to make enough of her now.' 

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EMMA 

< Are you expecting Miss Fairfax here soon ? ' 

' Oh yes ; next week.' 

' Indeed ! That must be a very great pleasure/ 

' Thank you. You are very kind. Yes, next week. Every- 
body is so surprised ; and everybody says the same obhging 
things. I am sure she will be as happy to see her friends at 
Highbury as they can be to see her. Yes, Friday or Saturday; 
she cannot say which, because Colonel Campbell will be wanting 
the carriage himself one of those days. So very good of them 
to send her the whole way ! But they always do, you know. 
Oh yes, Friday or Saturday next. That is what she writes 
about. That is the reason of her writing out of rule, as we 
call it ; for, in the common course, we should not have heard 
from her before next Tuesday or Wednesday.' 

'Yes, so I imagined. I was afraid there could be little 
chance of my hearing anything of Miss Fairfax to-day.' 

' So obliging of you ! No, we should not have heard, if it 
had not been for this particular circumstance, of her being to 
come here so soon. My mother is so delighted ! for she is to 
be three months with us at least. Three months, she says 
so, positively, as I am going to have the pleasure of reading 
to you. The case is, you see, that the Campbells are going to 
Ireland. Mrs. Dixon has persuaded her father and mother 
to come over and see her directly. They had not intended 
to go over till the summer, but she is so impatient to see them 
again ; for till she married, last October, she was never away 
from them so much as a week, which must make it very 
strange to be in different kingdoms, I was going to say, 
but however different countries, and so she wrote a very 
urgent letter to her mother, or her father, — I declare I do not 
know which it was, but we shall see presently in Jane's letter, 
— wrote in Mr. Dixon's name as well as her own, to press 
their coming over directly ; and they would give them the 
meeting in Dublin, and take them back to their country-seat, 
Baly-craig, — a beautiful place I fancy. Jane has heard a 
great deal of its beauty, — from Mr. Dixon, I mean, — I do not 
know that she ever heard about it from anybody else, — but it 
was very natural, you know, that he should like to speak of 
his own place while he was paying his addresses, — and as 
Jane used to be very often walking out with them, — for 
Colonel and Mrs. Campbell were very particular about their 

138 



EMMA 

daughter's not walking out often with only Mr. Dixon, for 
which I do not at all blame them ; of course she heard every- 
thing he might be telling Miss Campbell about his own home 
in Ireland ; and I think she wrote us word that he had shown 
them some drawings of the place, views that he had taken 
himself. He is a most amiable, charming young man, I 
believe. Jane was quite longing to go to Ireland, from his 
account of things. 

At this moment an ingenious and animating suspicion enter- 
ing Emma's brain with regard to Jane Fairfax, this charming 
Mr. Dixon, and the not going to Ireland, she said, with the 
insidious design of further discovery — 

' You must feel it very fortunate that Miss Fairfax should 
be allowed to come to you at such a time. Considering the 
very particular friendship between her and Mrs. Dixon, you 
could hardly have expected her to be excused from accompany- 
ing Colonel and Mrs. Campbell.' 

'Very true, very true, indeed. The very thing that we 
have always been rather afraid of; for we should not have 
liked to have her at such a distance from us, for months to- 
gether, — not able to come if anything was to happen ; but you 
see everything turns out for the best. They want her (Mr. 
and Mrs. Dixon) excessively to come over with Colonel and 
Mrs. Campbell ; quite depend upon it ; nothing can be more 
kind or pressing than their joint invitation, Jane says, as you 
will hear presently. Mr. Dixon does not seem in the least 
backward in any attention. He is a most charming young 
man. Ever since the service he rendered Jane at Weymouth, 
when they were out in that party on the water, and she, by 
the sudden whirling round of something or other among the 
sails, would have been dashed into the sea at once, and actually 
was all but gone, if he had not, with the greatest presence of 
mind, caught hold of her habit, — I can never think of it with- 
out trembling ! — but ever since we had the history of that day, 
I have been so fond of Mr. Dixon ! ' 

' But, in spite of all her friends' urgency, and her own wish 
of seeing Ireland, Miss Fairfax prefers devoting the time to 
you and Mrs. Bates ? ' 

' Yes — entirely her own doing, entirely her own choice ; 
and Colonel and Mrs. Campbell think she does quite right, 
just what they should recommend; and indeed they particularly 

139 



EMMA 

wish her to try her native air, as she has not been quite so 
well as usual lately.' 

' I am concerned to hear of it. I think they judge wisely ; 
but Mrs. Dixon must be very much disappointed. Mrs. Dixon, 
I understand, has no remarkable degree of personal beauty, — 
is not by any means to be compared with Miss Fairfax.' 

' Oh no. You are very obliging to say such things, but 
certainly not. There is no comparison between them. Miss 
Campbell always was absolutely plain, but extremely elegant 
and amiable.' 

' Yes, that of course.' 

' Jane caught a bad cold, poor thing ! so long ago as the 
7th of November (as I am going to read to you), and has never 
been well since, A long time, is not it, for a cold to hang 
upon her ? She never mentioned it before, because she would 
not alarm us. Just like her ! so considerate ! But, however, 
she is so far from well that her kind friends the Campbells 
think she had better come home, and try an air that always 
agrees with her ; and they have no doubt that three or four 
months at Highbury will entirely cure her ; and it is certainly 
a great deal better that she should come here than go to 
Ireland, if she is unwell. Nobody could nurse her as we 
should do.' 

' It appears to me the most desirable arrangement in the 
world.' 

' And so she is to come to us next Friday or Saturday, 
and the Campbells leave town in their way to Holyhead the 
Monday following, as you will find from Jane's letter. So 
sudden ! — You may guess, dear Miss Woodhouse, what a flurry 
it has thrown me in ! If it was not for the drawback of her 
illness, — but I am afraid we must expect to see her grown 
thin, and looking very poorly. I must tell you what an un- 
lucky thing happened to me as to that. I always make a 
point of reading Jane's letters through to myself first, before I 
read them aloud to my mother, you know, for fear of there 
being anything in them to distress her. Jane desired me to 
do it, so I always do ; and so I began to-day with my usual 
caution ; but no sooner did I come to the mention of her being 
unwell, than I burst out, quite frightened, with " Bless me ! 
poor Jane is ill!" — which my mother, being on the watch, 
heard distinctly, and was sadly alarmed at. However, when I 

140 



EMMA 

read on, I found it was not near so bad as I fancied at first, 
and I make so light of it now to her that she does not think 
much about it ; but I cannot imagine how I could be so off 
my guard ! If Jane does not get well soon, we will call in Mr. 
Perry. The expense shall not be thought of; and though he 
is so liberal and so fond of Jane that I daresay he would not 
mean to charge anything for attendance, we could not suffer it 
to be so, you know. He has a wife and family to maintain, 
and is not to be giving away his time. Well, now I have just 
given you a hint of what Jane writes about, we will turn to her 
letter ; and I am sure she tells her own story a great deal better 
than I can tell it for her.' 

' I am afraid we must be running away,' said Emma, 
glancing at Harriet, and beginning to rise ; ' my father will be 
expecting us. I had no intention, I thought I had no power, 
of staying more than five minutes, when I first entered the 
house. I merely called because I would not pass the door 
without inquiring after Mrs. Bates ; but I have been so 
pleasantly detained ! Now, however, we must wish you and 
Mrs. Bates good morning.' 

And not all that could be urged to detain her succeeded. 
She regained the street, happy in this, that though much had 
been forced on her against her will, though she had, in fact, 
heard the whole substance of Jane Fairfax's letter, she had 
been able to escape the letter itself. 



CHAPTER XX 

Jane Fairfax was an orphan, the only child of Mrs. Bates's 
youngest daughter. 

The marriage of Lieutenant Fairfax of the regiment of 

infantry and Miss Jane Bates had had its day of fame and 
pleasure, hope and interest ; but nothing now remained of it 
save the melancholy remembrance of him dying in action 
abroad — of his widow sinking under consumption and grief 
soon afterwards — and this girl. 

By birth she belonged to Highbury ; and when at three 
years old, on losing her mother, she became the property, the 

141 



EMMA 

charge, the consolation, the fondling of her grandmother and 
aunt, there had seemed every probability of her being per- 
manently fixed there ; of her being taught only what very 
limited means could command, and growing up with no ad- 
vantages of connection or improvement to be engrafted on 
what nature had given her in a pleasing person, good under- 
standing, and warm-hearted, well-meaning relations. 

But the compassionate feelings of a friend of her father gave 
a change to her destiny. This was Colonel Campbell, who had 
very highly regarded Fairfax as an excellent officer and most 
deserving young man ; and further, had been indebted to him 
for such attentions, during a severe camp-fever, as he believed 
had saved his life. These were claims which he did not learn 
to overlook, though some years passed away from the death of 
poor Fairfax before his own return to England put anything in 
his power. When he did return, he sought out the child and 
took notice of her. He was a married man with only one 
living child, a girl, about Jane's age ; and Jane became their 
guest, paying them long visits and growing a favourite with 
all ; and, before she was nine years old, his daughter's great 
fondness for her, and his own wish of being a real friend, 
united to produce an offer from Colonel Campbell of under- 
taking the whole charge of her education. It was accepted ; 
and from that period Jane had belonged to Colonel Campbell's 
family, and had lived with them entirely, only visiting her 
grandmother from time to time. 

The plan was that she should be brought up for educating 
others ; the very few hundred pounds which she inherited from 
her father making independence impossible. To provide for 
her otherwise was out of Colonel Campbell's power ; for though 
his income, by pay and appointments, was handsome, his 
fortune was moderate, and must be all his daughter's ; but, by 
giving her an education, he hoped to be supplying the means 
of respectable subsistence hereafter. 

Such was Jane Fairfax's history. She had fallen into good 
hands, known nothing but kindness from the Campbells, and 
been given an excellent education. Living constantly with 
right-minded and well-informed people, her heart and under- 
standing had received every advantage of discipline and culture ; 
and Colonel Campbell's residence being in London, every 
lighter talent had been done full justice to by the attendance 

142 



EMMA 

of first-rate masters. Her disposition and abilities were equally 
worthy of all that friendship could do ; and at eighteen or 
nineteen she was, as far as such an early age can be qualified 
for the care of children, fully competent to the office of 
instruction herself; but she was too much beloved to be parted 
with. Neither father nor mother could promote, and the 
daughter could not endure it. The evil day was put off. It 
was easy to decide that she was still too young ; and Jane 
remained with them, sharing, as another daughter, in all the 
rational pleasures of an elegant society, and a judicious mixture 
of home and amusement, with only the drawback of the future, 
— the sobering suggestions of her own good understanding to 
remind her that all this might soon be over. 

The affection of the whole family, the warm attachment 
of Miss Campbell in particular, was the more honourable to 
each party from the circumstance of Jane's decided superiority 
both in beauty and acquirements. That nature had given it 
in feature could not be unseen by the young woman, nor could 
her higher powers of mind be unfelt by the parents. They 
continued together with unabated regard, however, till the 
marriage of Miss Campbell, who by that chance, that luck 
which so often defies anticipation in matrimonial affairs, giving 
attraction to what is moderate rather than to what is superior, 
engaged the affections of Mr. Dixon, a young man rich and 
agreeable, almost as soon as they were acquainted, and was 
eligibly and happily settled, while Jane Fairfax had yet her 
bread to earn. 

This event had very lately taken place ; too lately for any- 
thing to be yet attempted by her less fortunate friend towards 
entering on her path of duty, though she had now reached 
the age which her own judgment had fixed on for beginning. 
She had long resolved that one-and-twenty should be the 
period. With the fortitude of a devoted novitiate, she had 
resolved at one-and-twenty to complete the sacrifice, and retire 
from all the pleasures of life, of rational intercourse, equal 
society, peace and hope, to penance and mortification for ever. 

The good sense of Colonel and Mrs. Campbell could not 
oppose such a resolution, though their feelings did. As long 
as they lived, no exertions would be necessary, their home 
might be hers for ever ; and for their own comfort they would 
have retained her wholly ; but this would be selfishness : — 

143 



EMMA 

what must be at last had better be soon. Perhaps they 
began to feel it might have been kinder and wiser to have 
resisted the temptation of any delay, and spared her from a 
taste of such enjoyments of ease and leisure as must now be 
relinquished. Still, however, affection was glad to catch at 
any reasonable excuse for not hurrying on the wretched 
moment. She had never been quite well since the time of 
their daughter's marriage ; and till she should have completely 
recovered her usual strength, they must forbid her engaging in 
duties, which so far from being compatible with a weakened 
frame and varying spirits, seemed, under the most favourable 
circumstances, to require something more than human perfection 
of body and mind to be discharged with tolerable comfort. 

With regard to her not accompanying them to Ireland, 
her account to her aunt contained nothing but truth, though 
there might be some truths not told. It was her own choice 
to give the time of their absence to Highbury ; to spend, 
perhaps, her last months of perfect liberty with those kind 
relations to whom she was so very dear ; and the Campbells, 
whatever might be their motive or motives, whether single, or 
double, or treble, gave the arrangement their ready sanction, 
and said that they depended more on a few months spent in 
her native air, for the recovery of her health, than on anything 
else. Certain it was that she was to come ; and that High- 
bury, instead of welcoming that perfect novelty which had 
been so long promised it — Mr. Frank Churchill — must put up 
for the present with Jane Fairfax, who could bring only the 
freshness of a two years' absence. 

Emma was sorry to have to pay civilities to a person she 
did not like through three long months ! — to be always doing 
more than she wished, and less than she ought ! Why she 
did not like Jane Fairfax might be a difficult question to 
answer ; Mr. Knightley had once told her it was because she 
saw in her the really accomplished young woman which she 
wanted to be thought herself; and though the accusation had 
been eagerly refuted at the time, there were moments of self- 
examination in which her conscience could not quite acquit 
her. But ' she could never get acquainted with her ; she did 
not know how it was, but there was such coldness and reserve 
— such apparent indifference whether she pleased or not — and 
then, her aunt was such an eternal talker ! — and she was made 

144 



EMMA 

such a fuss with by everybody ! — and it had been ahvays 
imagined that they were to be so intimate because their ages 
were the same, everybody had supposed they must be so 
fond of each other.' These were her reasons ; she had no 
better. 

It was a dishke so Httle just, — every imputed fault was so 
magnified by fancy, — that she never saw Jane Fairfax, the 
first time after any considerable absence, without feeling that 
she had injured her ; and now, when the due visit was paid, 
on her arrival, after a two years' interval, she was particularly 
struck with the very appearance and manners which for those 
two whole years she had been depreciating. Jane Fairfax was 
very elegant, remarkably elegant ; and she had herself the 
highest value for elegance. Her height was pretty, just such 
as almost everybody would think tall, and nobody could think 
very tall ; her figure particularly graceful ; her size a most 
becoming medium, between fat and thin, though a slight 
appearance of ill-health seemed to point out the likeliest evil of 
the two. Emma could not but feel all this ; and then, her face 
— her features — there was more beauty in them all together 
than she had remembered ; it was not regular, but it was very 
pleasing beauty. Her eyes, a deep gray, with dark eyelashes 
and eyebrows, had never been denied their praise ; but the skin, 
which she had been used to cavil at, as wanting colour, had a 
clearness and delicacy which really needed no fuller bloom. 
It was a style of beauty of which elegance was the reigning 
character, and as such, she must, in honour, by all her principles, 
admire it : elegance which, whether of person or of mind, she 
saw so little in Highbury. There, not to be vulgar, was 
distinction and merit. 

In short, she sat, during the first visit, looking at Jane 
Fairfax with twofold complacency, — the sense of pleasure and 
the sense of rendering justice, and was determining that she 
would dislike her no longer. When she took in her history, 
indeed, her situation, as well as her beauty ; when she con- 
sidered what all this elegance was destined to, what she was 
going to sink from, how she was going to live, it seemed im- 
possible to feel anything but compassion and respect ; especi- 
ally, if to every well-known particular, entitling her to interest, 
were added the highly probable circumstance of an attachment 
to Mr. Dixon, which she had so naturally started to herself. 

L 145 



EMMA 

In that case nothing could be more pitiable or more honour- 
able than the sacrifices she had resolved on. Emma was very 
willing now to acquit her of having seduced Mr. Dixon's 
affections from his wife, or of anything mischievous which her 
imagination had suggested at first. If it were love, it might 
be simple, single, successless love on her side alone. She 
might have been unconsciously sucking in the sad poison, 
while a sharer of his conversation with her friend ; and from 
the best, the purest of motives, might now be denying herself 
this visit to Ireland, and resolving to divide herself effectually 
from him and his connections by soon beginning her career of 
laborious duty. 

Upon the whole, Emma left her with such softened, charit- 
able feelings, as made her look around in walking home, and 
lament that Highbury afforded no young man worthy of 
giving her independence, — nobody that she could wish to 
scheme about for her. 

These were charming feelings, but not lasting. Before she 
had committed herself by any public profession of eternal friend- 
ship for Jane Fairfax, or done more towards a recantation of 
past prejudices and errors, than saying to Mr. Knightley, ' She 
certainly is handsome ; she is better than handsome ! ' Jane 
had spent an evening at Hartfield with her grandmother and 
aunt, and everything was relapsing much into its usual state. 
Former provocations reappeared. The aunt was as tiresome 
as ever ; more tiresome, because anxiety for her health was 
now added to admiration of her powers ; and they had to 
listen to the description of exactly how little bread and butter 
she ate for breakfast, and how small a slice of mutton for 
dinner, as well as to see exhibitions of new caps and new 
workbags for her mother and herself; and Jane's offences rose 
again. They had music : Emma was obliged to play ; and 
the thanks and praise which necessarily followed appeared to 
her an affectation of candour, an air of greatness, meaning 
only to show off in higher style her own very superior per- 
formance. She was, besides, which was the worst of all, so 
cold, so cautious ! There was no getting at her real opinion. 
Wrapt up in a cloak of politeness, she seemed determined 
to hazard nothing. She was disgustingly, was suspiciously 
reserved. 

If anything could be more, where all was most, she was 
146 



EMMA 

more reserved on the subject of Weymouth and the Dixons 
than anything. She seemed bent on giving no real insight 
into Mr. Dixon's character, or her own value for his company, 
or opinion of the suitableness of the match. It was all 
general approbation and smoothness ; nothing delineated or 
distinguished. It did her no service, however. Her caution 
was thrown away. Emma saw its artifice, and returned to her 
first surmises. There probably was something more to con- 
ceal than her own preference ; Mr. Dixon, perhaps, had been 
very near changing one friend for the other, or been fixed 
only to Miss Campbell for the sake of the future twelve thousand 
pounds. 

The like reserve prevailed on other topics. She and Mr. 
Frank Churchill had been at Weymouth at the same time. 
It was known that they were a little acquainted ; but not a 
syllable of real information could Emma procure as to what 
he truly was. ' Was he handsome ? ' ' She believed he was 
reckoned a very fine young man.' ' Was he agreeable ? ' 
' He was generally thought so.' 'Did he appear a sensible 
young man ; a young man of information ? ' ' At a watering- 
place, or in a common London acquaintance, it was difficult to 
decide on such points. Manners were all that could be safely 
judged of, under much longer knowledge than they had yet had 
of Mr. Churchill. She believed everybody found his manners 
pleasing.' Emma could not forgive her. 



CHAPTER XXI 

Emma could not forgive her ; but as neither provocation 
nor resentment were discerned by Mr. Knightley, who had 
been of the party, and had seen only proper attention and 
pleasing behaviour on each side, he was expressing the next 
morning, being at Hartfield again on business with Mr. 
Woodhouse, his approbation of the whole ; not so openly as 
he might have done had her father been out of the room, but 
speaking plain enough to be very intelligible to Emma. 
He had been used to think her unjust to Jane, and had now 
great pleasure in marking an improvement. 

147 



EMMA 

' A very pleasant evening,' he began as soon as Mr. 
Woodhouse had been talked into what was necessary, told 
that he understood, and the papers swept away ; — * par- 
ticularly pleasant. You and Miss Fairfax gave us some 
very good music. I do not know a more luxurious state, 
sir, than sitting at one's ease to be entertained a whole 
evening by two such young women ; sometimes with music 
and sometimes with conversation. I am sure Miss Fairfax 
must have found the evening pleasant, Emma. You left 
nothing undone. I was glad you made her play so much, 
for having no instrument at her grandmother's, it must have 
been a real indulgence.' 

' I am happy you approved,' said Emma smiling ; ' but I 
hope I am not often deficient in what is due to guests at 
Hartfield.' 

' No, my dear,' said her father instantly ; ' that I am sure 
you are not. There is nobody half so attentive and civil as 
you are. If anything, you are too attentive. The muffin 
last night, if it had been handed round once, I think it would 
have been enough.' 

' Noj' said Mr. Knightley, nearly at the same time ; ' you 
are not often deficient ; not often deficient, either in manner 
or comprehension. I think you understand me, therefore.' 

An arch look expressed — ' I understand you well enough ; ' 
but she said only, ' Miss Fairfax is reserved.' 

* I always told you she was — a little ; but you will soon 
overcome all that part of her reserve which ought to be over- 
come, all that has its foundation in diffidence. What arises 
from discretion must be honoured.' 

' You think her diffident. I do not see it.' 

' My dear Emma,' said he, moving from his chair into one 
close by her, ' you are not going to tell me, I hope, that you 
had not a pleasant evening.' 

' Oh no ; I was pleased with my own perseverance in 
asking questions, and amused to think how little information 
I obtained.' 

' I am disappointed,' was his only answer. 

' I hope everybody had a pleasant evening,' said Mr. 
Woodhouse, in his quiet way. ' I had. Once, I felt the 
fire rather too much ; but then I moved back my chair a 
little, a very little, and it did not disturb me. Miss Bates was 

148 




Miss Bates was very chatty and good-humourecL' 



EMMA 

very chatty and good-humoured, as she always is, though she 
speaks rather too quick. However, she is very agreeable, 
and Mrs. Bates, too, in a different way. I like old friends ; 
and Miss Jane Fairfax is a very pretty sort of young lady ; 
a very pretty and a very well-behaved young lady indeed. 
She must have found the evening agreeable, Mr. Knightley, 
because she had Emma.' 

* True, sir ; and Emma, because she had Miss Fairfax.' 

Emma saw his anxiety, and wishing to appease it, at least 
for the present, said, and with a sincerity which no one could 
question — 

' She is a sort of elegant creature that one cannot keep 
one's eyes from. I am always watching her to admire ; and 
I do pity her from my heart.' 

Mr. Knightley looked as if he were more gratified than he 
cared to express ; and before he could make any reply, 
Mr. Woodhouse, whose thoughts were on the Bates's, said — 

'It is a great pity that their circumstances should be so 
confined ! a great pity indeed ! and I have often wished — 
but it is so little one can venture to do — small, trifling pre- 
sents, of anything uncommon. Now, we have killed a 
porker, and Emma thinks of sending them a loin or a leg ; 
it is very small and delicate — Hartfield pork is not like any 
other pork — but still it is pork — and, my dear Emma, unless 
one could be sure of their making it into steaks, nicely 
fried, as ours are fried, without the smallest grease, and not 
roast it, for no stomach can bear roast pork — I think we had 
better send the leg — do not you think so, my dear ? ' 

' My dear papa, I sent the whole hind-quarter. I knew 
you would wish it. There will be the leg to be salted, you 
know, which is so very nice, and the loin to be dressed 
directly, in any manner they like.' 

' That's right, my dear, very right. I had not thought of 
it before, but that was the best way. They must not over- 
salt the leg ; and then, if it is not over-salted, and if it is very 
thoroughly boiled, just as Serle boils ours, and eaten very 
moderately of, with a boiled turnip, and a little carrot or 
parsnip, I do not consider it unwholesome.' 

' Emma,' said Mr. Knightley presently, ' I have a piece 
of news for you. You like news — and I heard an article in 
my way hither that I think will interest you.' 

150 



EMMA 

< News ! Oh yes, I always like news. What is it ? — why 
do you smile so ? — where did you hear it ? — at Randalls ? ' 

He had time only to say — 

' No, not at Randalls ; I have not been near Randalls,' — 
when the door was thrown open, and Miss Bates and Miss 
Fairfax walked into the room. Full of thanks, and full of news. 
Miss Bates knew not which to give quickest. Mr. Knightley 
soon saw that he had lost his moment, and that not another 
syllable of communication could rest with him. 

' Oh, my dear sir, how are you this morning ? My dear 
Miss Woodhouse — I come quite overpowered. Such a 
beautiful hind -quarter of pork ! You are too bountiful ! 
Have you heard the news ? Mr. Elton is going to be 
married.' 

Emma had not had time even to think of Mr. Elton, and 
she was so completely surprised that she could not avoid a 
little start, and a little blush, at the sound. 

' There is my news : — I thought it would interest you,' said 
Mr. Knightley, with a smile, which implied a conviction of 
some part of what had passed between them. 

' But where could /<?« hear it ?' cried Miss Bates. ' Where 
could you possibly hear it, Mr. Knightley ? For it is not 
five minutes since I received Mrs. Cole's note — no, it can- 
not be more than five — or at least ten — for I had got my 
bonnet and spencer on, just ready to come out — I was only 
gone down to speak to Patty again about the pork — Jane 
was standing in the passage — were not you, Jane ? — for my 
mother was so afraid that we had not any salting-pan large 
enough. So ! said I would go down and see, and Jane said, 
" Shall I go down instead ? for I think you have a little cold, 
and Patty has been washing the kitchen." " Oh, my dear," 
said I — well, and just then came the note. A Miss Hawkins 
— that's all I know — a Miss Hawkins of Bath. But, Mr. 
Knightley, how could you possibly have heard it ? for the 
very moment Mr. Cole told Mrs. Cole of it, she sat down 
and wrote to me. A Miss Hawkins ' 

' I was with Mr. Cole on business an hour and a half ago. 
He had just read Elton's letter as I was shown in, and 
handed it to me directly.' 

' Well ! that is quite — I suppose there never was a piece of 
news more generally interesting. My dear sir, you really 



EMMA 

are too bountiful. My mother desires her very best compH- 
ments and regards, and a thousand thanks, and says you 
really quite oppress her.' 

'We consider our Hartfield pork,' replied Mr. Wood- 
house — ' indeed it certainly is, so very superior to all other 
pork, that Emma and I cannot have a greater pleasure 
than 

' Oh, my dear sir, as my mother says, our friends are only 
too good to us. If ever there were people who, without 
having great wealth themselves, had everything they could 
wish for, I am sure it is us. We may well say, that " our lot 
is cast in a goodly heritage." Well, Mr. Knightley, and so 
you actually saw the letter — well ' 

' It was short, merely to announce — but cheerful, exulting 
of course.' Here was a sly glance at Emma. ' He had 
been so fortunate as to — I forget the precise words — one has 
no business to remember them. The information was, as 
you state, that he was going to be married to a Miss Hawkins. 
By his style, I should imagine it just settled.' 

' Mr. Elton going to be married ! ' said Emma, as soon as 
she could speak. ' He will have everybody's wishes for his 
happiness.' 

' He is very young to settle,' was Mr. Woodhouse's obser- 
vation. ' He had better not be in a hurry. He seemed to me 
very well off as he was. We were always glad to see him at 
Hartfield.' 

' A new neighbour for us all. Miss Woodhouse ! ' said Miss 
Bates joyfully ; ' my mother is so pleased ! — she says she 
cannot bear to have the poor old vicarage without a mistress. 
This is great news, indeed. Jane, you have never seen Mr. 
Elton : — no wonder that you have such a curiosity to see him.' 

Jane's curiosity did not appear of that absorbing nature as 
wholly to occupy her. 

' No, I have never seen Mr. Elton,' she replied, starting on 
this appeal ; ' is he — is he a tall man ? ' 

' Who shall answer that question ? ' cried Emma. My 
father would say, "Yes;" Mr. Knightley, "No;" and Miss 
Bates and I, that he is just the happy medium. Wlien you 
have been here a little longer. Miss Fairfax, you will under- 
stand that Mr. Elton is the standard of perfection in Highbury, 
both in person and mind.' 

152 



EMMA 

' Very true, Miss Woodhouse, so she will. He is the very 
best young man ; — but, my dear Jane, if you remember, I told 
you yesterday he was precisely the height of Mr. Perry. 
Miss Hawkins, — I daresay, an excellent young woman. His 
extreme attention to my mother — wanted her to sit in the 
vicarage pew, that she might hear the better, for my mother is 
a little deaf, you know — it is not much, but she does not hear 
quite quick. Jane says that Colonel Campbell is a little deaf. 
He fancied bathing might be good for it — the warm bath — 
but she says it did him no lasting benefit. Colonel Campbell, 
you know, is quite our angel. And Mr. Dixon seems a very 
charming young man, quite worthy of him. It is such a 
happiness when good people get together — and they always 
do. Now, here will be Mr. Elton and Miss Hawkins ; and 
there are the Coles, such very good people ; and the Perrys — 
I suppose there never was a happier or a better couple than 
Mr. and Mrs. Perry. I say, sir,' turning to Mr. Woodhouse, 
' I think there are few places with such society as Highbury. 
I always say, we are quite blessed in our neighbours. My 
dear sir, if there is one thing my mother loves better than 
another, it is pork — a roast loin of pork ' 

* As to who, or what Miss Hawkins is, or how long he has 
been acquainted with her,' said Emma, 'nothing, I suppose, 
can be known. One feels that it cannot be a very long ac- 
quaintance. He has been gone only four weeks.' 

Nobody had any information to give ; and, after a few more 
wonderings, Emma said — 

*You are silent. Miss Fairfax — but I hope you mean to 
take an interest in this news. You, who have been hearing 
and seeing so much of late on these subjects, who must have 
been so deep in the business on Miss Campbell's account — 
we shall not excuse your being indifferent about Mr. Elton 
and Miss Hawkins.' 

' When I have seen Mr. Elton,' replied Jane, ♦ I daresay I 
shall be interested — but I believe it requires that with me. 
And as it is some months since Miss Campbell married, the 
impression may be a little worn off.' 

'Yes, he has been gone just four weeks, as you observe, 
Miss Woodhouse,' said Miss Bates, ' four weeks yesterday : 
— a Miss Hawkins : — well, I had always rather fancied it 
would be some young lady hereabouts ; not that I ever — Mrs. 



EMMA 

Cole once whispered to me — but I immediately said, " No, 

Mr, Elton is a most worthy young man — but " In short, 

I do not think I am particularly quick at those sort of dis- 
coveries. I do not pretend to it. What is before me, I see. 
At the same time, nobody could wonder if Mr. Elton should 

have aspired Miss Woodhouse lets me chatter on, so good- 

humouredly. She knows I would not offend for the world. 
How does Miss Smith do ? She seems quite recovered now. 
Have you heard from Mrs. John Knightley lately ? Oh, those 
dear little children. Jane, do you know I always fancy Mr. 
Dixon like Mr. John Knightley ? I mean in person — tall, and 
with that sort of look — and not very talkative.' 

' Quite wrong, my dear aunt ; there is no likeness at all.' 

' Very odd ! but one never does form a just idea of any- 
body beforehand. One takes up a notion, and runs away 
with it. Mr. Dixon, you say, is not, strictly speaking, hand- 
some.' 

' Handsome ! Oh no — far from it — certainly plain. I told 
you he was plain.' 

' My dear, you said that Miss Campbell would not allow 
him to be plain, and that you yourself ' 

' Oh, as for me, my judgment is worth nothing. Where 
I have a regard, I always think a person well-looking. But 
I gave what I believed the general opinion, when I called him 
plain.' 

' Well, my dear Jane, I believe we must be running away. 
The weather does not look well, and grandmamma will be 
uneasy. You are too obliging, my dear Miss Woodhouse ; 
but we really must take leave. This has been a most agree- 
able piece of news indeed. I shall just go round by Mrs. 
Cole's ; but I shall not stop three minutes ; and, Jane, you 
had better go home directly — I would not have you out in a 
shower ! We think she is the better for Highbury already. 
Thank you, we do indeed. I shall not attempt calling on 
Mrs. Goddard, for I really do not think she cares for anything 
but boiled pork ; when we dress the \^% it will be another 
thing. Good morning to you, my dear sir. Oh, Mr. Knightley 
is coming too. Well, that is so very ! — I am sure if Jane is 
tired, you will be so kind as to give her your arm. Mr. Elton, 
and Miss Hawkins. Good morning to you.' 

Emma, alone with her father, had half her attention wanted 

154 



EMMA 

by him, while he lamented that young people would be in such 
a hurry to marry — and to marry strangers, too — and the other 
half she could give to her own view of the subject. It was to 
herself an amusing and a very welcome piece of news, as 
proving that Mr. Elton could not have suffered long ; but she 
was sorry for Harriet : Harriet must feel it — and all that she 
could hope was, by giving the first information herself, to save 
her from hearing it abruptly from others. It was now about 
the time that she was likely to call. If she were to meet Miss 
Bates in her way ! — and upon its beginning to rain, Emma 
was obliged to expect that the weather would be detaining her 
at Mrs. Goddard's, and that the intelligence would undoubtedly 
rush upon her without preparation. 

The shower was heavy, but short ; and it had not been 
over five minutes, when in came Harriet, with just the heated, 
agitated look which hurrying thither with a full heart was 
likely to give ; and the ' Oh, Miss Woodhouse, what do you 
think has happened ? ' which instantly burst forth, had all the 
evidence of corresponding perturbation. As the blow was 
given, Emma felt that she could not now show greater kindness 
than in listening ; and Harriet, unchecked, ran eagerly through 
what she had to tell. * She had set out from Mrs. Goddard's 
half an hour ago — she had been afraid it would rain — she had 
been afraid it would pour down every moment — but she 
thought she might get to Hartfield first — she had hurried on as 
fast as possible ; but then, as she was passing by the house 
where a young woman was making up a gown for her, she 
thought she would just step in and see how it went on ; and 
though she did not seem to stay half a moment there, soon 
after she came out it began to rain, and she did not know 
what to do ; so she ran on directly, as fast as she could, and 
took shelter at Ford's.' Ford's was the principal woollen- 
draper, linen-draper, and haberdasher's shop united — the shop 
first in size and fashion in the place. 'And so, there she 
had sat, without an idea of anything in the world, full ten 
minutes, perhaps — when, all of a sudden, who should come in 
— to be sure it was so very odd ! — but they always dealt at 
Ford's — who should come in but Elizabeth Martin and her 
brother ! Dear Miss Woodhouse ! only think. I thought I 
should have fainted. I did not know what to do. I was 
sitting near the door — Elizabeth saw me directly ; but he did 




' JVho should come in but Elizabeth and her brother!' 



1 



EMMA 

not ; he was busy with the umbrella. I am sure she saw me, 
but she looked away directly, and took no notice ; and they 
both went to quite the farther end of the shop, and I kept 
sitting near the door. Oh dear, I was so miserable ! I am 
sure I must have been as white as my gown. I could not go 
away, you know, because of the rain ; but I did so wish 
myself anywhere in the world but there. Oh dear. Miss 
Woodhouse — well, at last, I fancy, he looked round and saw 
me ; for, instead of going on with their buyings, they began 
whispering to one another. I am sure they were talking of 
me ; and I could not help thinking that he was persuading her 
to speak to me — (do you think he was. Miss Woodhouse ?) — 
for presently she came forward — came quite up to me, and 
asked me how I did, and seemed ready to shake hands, if I 
would. She did not do any of it in the same way that she 
used ; I could see she was altered ; but, however, she seemed 
to try to be very friendly, and we shook hands, and stood 
talking some time ; but I know no more what I said — I was in 
such a tremble ! I remember she said she was sorry we never 
met now ; which I thought almost too kind ! dear Miss 
Woodhouse, I was absolutely miserable ! By that time it was 
beginning to hold up, and I was determined that nothing 
should stop me from getting away — and then — only think ! — I 
found he was coming up towards me, too — slowly, you know, 
and as if he did not quite know what to do ; and so he came 
and spoke, and I answered — and I stood for a minute, feeling 
dreadfully, you know, one cannot tell how ; and then I took 
courage, and said it did not rain, and I must go ; and so off I 
set ; and I had not got three yards from the door, when he 
came after me, only to say, if I was going to Hartfield, he 
thought I had much better go round by Mr. Cole's stables, for 
I should find the near way quite floated by this rain. Oh dear, 
I thought it would have been the death of me ! So I said, I 
was very much obliged to him : you know I could not do less ; 
and then he went back to Elizabeth, and I came round by the 
stables — I believe I did — but I hardly knew where I was, or 
anything about it. Oh, Miss Woodhouse, I would rather have 
done anything than had it happen ; and, yet, you know, there 
was a sort of satisfaction in seeing him behave so pleasantly 
and so kindly. And Elizabeth, too. Oh, Miss Woodhouse, do 
talk to me, and make me comfortable again.' 



EMMA 

Very sincerely did Emma wish to do so ; but it was not 
immediately in her power. She was obliged to stop and think. 
She was not thoroughly comfortable herself. The young 
Plan's conduct, and his sister's, seemed the result of real 
feeling, and she could not but pity them. As Harriet described 
it, there had been an interesting mixture of wounded affection 
and genuine delicacy in their behaviour ; but she had believed 
them to be well-meaning, worthy people, before ; and what 
difference did this make in the evils of the connection ? It 
was folly to be disturbed by it. Of course, he must be sorry 
to lose her, — they must be all sorry : ambition, as well as love, 
had probably been mortified. They might all have hoped to 
rise by Harriet's acquaintance ; and besides, what was the 
value of Harriet's description ? So easily pleased, — so little 
discerning, — what signified her praise ? 

She exerted herself, and did try to make her comfortable, 
by considering all that had passed as a mere trifle, and quite 
unworthy of being dwelt on. 

' It might be distressing for the moment,' said she, ' but 
you seem to have behaved extremely well ; and it is over, 
— and may never, — can never, as a first meeting, — occur 
again, and therefore you need not think about it.' 

Harriet said, ' Very true,' and she ' would not think about 
it ; ' but still she talked of it — still she could talk of nothing 
else ; and Emma, at last, in order to put the Martins out of 
her head, was obliged to hurry on the news, which she had 
meant to give with so much tender caution, hardly knowing 
herself whether to rejoice or be angry, ashamed or only amused, 
at such a state of mind in poor Harriet — such a confusion 
of Mr. Elton's importance with her ! 

Mr. Elton's rights, however, gradually revived. Though 
she did not feel the first intelligence as she might have done 
the day before, or an hour before, its interest soon increased ; 
and before their first conversation was over, she had talked 
herself into all the sensations of curiosity, wonder and regret, 
pain and pleasure, as to this fortunate Miss Hawkins, which 
could conduce to place the Martins under proper subordination 
in her fancy. 

Emma learned to be rather glad that there had been such 
a meeting. It had been serviceable in deadening the first 
shock, without retaining any influence to alarm. As Harriet 

158 



EMMA 

now lived, the Martins could not get at her without seeking 
her, where hitherto they had wanted either the courage or the 
condescension to seek her ; for since her refusal of the brother, 
the sisters had never been at Mrs. Goddard's ; and a twelve- 
month might pass without their being thrown together again 
with any necessity, or even any power of speech. 



CHAPTER XXII 

Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in 
interesting situations, that a young person who either marries 
or dies is sure of being kindly spoken of. 

A week had not passed since Miss Hawkins's name was 
first mentioned in Highbury before she was, by some means 
or other, discovered to have every recommendation of person 
and mind, — to be handsome, elegant, highly accomplished, 
and perfectly amiable ; and when Mr. Elton himself arrived 
to triumph in his happy prospects, and circulate the fame of 
her merits, there was very little more for him to do than to 
tell her Christian name, and say whose music she principally 
played. 

Mr. Elton returned, a very happy man. He had gone 
away rejected and mortified, disappointed in a very sanguine 
hope, after a series of what had appeared to him strong en- 
couragement ; and not only losing the right lady, but finding 
himself debased to the level of a very wrong one. He had 
gone away deeply offended ; he came back engaged to another, 
and to another as superior, of course, to the first, as under 
such circumstances what is gained always is to what is lost. 
He came back gay and self-satisfied, eager and busy, caring 
nothing for Miss Woodhouse, and defying Miss Smith. 

The charming Augusta Hawkins, in addition to all the 
usual advantages of perfect beauty and merit, was in possession 
of an independent fortune, of so many thousands as would 
always be called ten, — a point of some dignity, as well as some 
convenience. The story told well ; he had not thrown himself 
away — he had gained a woman of ^{^ 10,000, or thereabouts, 
and he had gained her with such delightful rapidity ; the first 

159 



EMMA 

hour of introduction had been so very soon followed by 
distinguishing notice ; the history which he had to give Mrs. 
Cole of the rise and progress of the affair was so glorious ; 
the steps so quick, from the accidental rencontre to the dinner 
at Mr. Green's, and the party at Mrs. Brown's, — smiles and 
blushes rising in importance, — with consciousness and agitation 
richly scattered ; the lady had been so easily impressed, — so 
sweetly disposed ; — had, in short, to use a most intelligible 
phrase, been so very ready to have him, that vanity and 
prudence were equally contented. 

He had caught both substance and shadow, both fortune 
and affection, and was just the happy man he ought to be ; 
— talking only of himself and his own concerns, — expecting to 
be congratulated, — ready to be laughed at, — and with cordial, 
fearless smiles, now addressing all the young ladies of the 
place, to whom, a few weeks ago, he would have been more 
cautiously gallant. 

The wedding was no distant event, as the parties had only 
themselves to please, and nothing but the necessary prepara- 
tions to wait for ; and when he set out for Bath again, there 
was a general expectation, which a certain glance of Mrs. 
Cole's did not seem to contradict, that when he next entered 
Highbury he would bring his bride. 

During his present short stay, Emma had barely seen him ; 
but just enough to feel that the first meeting was over, and 
to give her the impression of his not being improved by the 
mixture of pique and pretension now spread over his air. 
She was, in fact, beginning very much to wonder that she 
had ever thought him pleasing at all ; and his sight was so 
inseparably connected with some very disagreeable feelings 
that, except in a moral light — as a penance, a lesson, a source 
of profitable humiliation to her own mind — she would have 
been thankful to be assured of never seeing him again. She 
wished him very well ; but he gave her pain ; and his welfare 
twenty miles off would administer most satisfaction. 

The pain of his continued residence in Highbury, however, 
must certainly be lessened by his marriage. Many vain solici- 
tudes would be prevented — many awkwardnesses smoothed 
by it. A Mrs. Elton would be an excuse for any change 
of intercourse ; former intimacy might sink without remark. 
It would be almost beginning their life of civility again. 

i6o 



i 



EMMA 

Of the lady individually, Emma thought very little. She 
was good enough for Mr. Elton, no doubt ; accomplished 
enough for Highbury — handsome enough — to look plain, 
probably, by Harriet's side. As to connection, there Emma 
was perifectly easy ; persuaded that after all his own vaunted 
claims and disdain of Harriet, he had done nothing. On 
that article, truth seemed attainable. W/iat she was must 
be uncertain ; but who she was might be found out ; and 
setting aside the ;i^ 10,000, it did not appear that she was at 
all Harriet's superior. She brought no name, no blood, no 
alliance. Miss Hawkins was the youngest of the two 
daughters of a Bristol — merchant, of course, he must be 
called ; but, as the whole of the profits of his mercantile life 
appeared so very moderate, it was not unfair to guess the 
dignity of his line of trade had been very moderate also. 
Part of every winter she had been used to spend in Bath ; 
but Bristol was her home, the very heart of Bristol ; for 
though the father and mother had died some years ago, an 
uncle remained — in the law Hne : — nothing more distinctly 
honourable was hazarded of him than that he was in the law 
line ; and with him the daughter had lived. Emma guessed 
him to be the drudge of some attorney, and too stupid to rise. 
And all the grandeur of the connection seemed dependent on 
the elder sister, who was very well married^ to a gentleman 
in a great way, near Bristol, who kept two carriages ! That 
was the wind-up of the history ; that was the glory of Miss 
Hawkins. 

Could she but have given Harriet her feelings about it all ! 
She had talked her into love ; but, alas ! she was not so easily 
to be talked out of it. The charm of an object to occupy the 
many vacancies of Harriet's mind was not to be talked away. 
He might be superseded by another ; he certainly would, 
indeed ; nothing could be clearer ; even a Robert Martin 
would have been sufficient ; but nothing else, she feared, would 
cure her. Harriet was one of those who, having once begun, 
would be always in love. And now, poor girl, she was con- 
siderably worse from this reappearance of Mr. Elton — she was 
always having a glimpse of him somewhere or other. Emma 
saw him only once ; but two or three times every day Harriet 
was sure Just to meet with him, or Just to miss him. Just to 
hear his voice, or see his shoulder, Jtist to have something 
M 161 



EMMA 

occur to preserve him in her fancy, in all the favouring warmth 
of surprise and conjecture. She was, moreover, perpetually 
hearing about him ; for, excepting when at Hartfield, she was 
always among those who saw no fault in Mr. Elton, and found 
nothing so interesting as the discussion of his concerns ; and 
every report, therefore, every guess, — all that had already 
occurred, all that might occur in the arrangement of his affairs, 
comprehending income, servants and furniture, — was con- 
tinually in agitation around her. Her regard was receiving 
strength by invariable praise of him, and her regrets kept alive, 
and feelings irritated, by ceaseless repetitions of Miss Hawkins's 
happiness, and continual observation of how much he seemed 
attached ! — his air as he walked by the house — the very sitting 
of his hat, being all in proof of how much he was in love ! 

Had it been allowable entertainment, had there been no 
pain to her friend, or reproach to herself, in the waverings of 
Harriet's mind, Emma would have been amused by its varia- 
tions. Sometimes Mr. Elton predominated, sometimes the 
Martins ; and each was occasionally useful as a check to the 
other. Mr. Elton's engagement had been the cure of the 
agitation of meeting Mr. Martin. The unhappiness produced 
by the knowledge of that engagement had been a little put 
aside by Elizabeth Martin's calling at Mrs. Goddard's a few 
days afterwards. Harriet had not been at home ; but a note 
had been prepared and left for her, written in the very style to 
touch, — a small mixture of reproach with a great deal of kind- 
ness ; and till Mr. Elton himself appeared, she had been much 
occupied by it, continually pondering over what could be done 
in return, and wishing to do more than she dared to confess. 
But Mr. Elton, in person, had driven away all such cares. 
While he stayed, the Martins were forgotten ; and on the very 
morning of his setting off for Bath again, Emma, to dissipate 
some of the distress it occasioned, judged it best for her to 
return Elizabeth Martin's visit. 

How that visit was to be acknowledged, what would be 
necessary, and what might be safest, had been a point of some 
doubtful consideration. Absolute neglect of the mother and 
sisters, when invited to come, would be ingratitude. It must 
not be ; and yet the danger of a renewal of the acquaintance ! 

After much thinking, she could determine on nothing better 
th^n Harriet's returning the visit : but in a way that, if they 

162 



I 



EMMA 

had understanding, should convince them that it was to be only 
a formal acquaintance. She meant to take her in the carriage, 
leave her at the Abbey-Mill, while she drove a little farther, 
and call for her again so soon as to allow no time for insidious 
applications or dangerous recurrences to the past, and give the 
most decided proof of what degree of intimacy was chosen for 
the future. 

She could think of nothing better ; and though there was 
something in it which her own heart could not approve — some- 
thing of ingratitude, merely glossed over — it must be done, or 
what would become of Harriet ? 



CHAPTER XXIII 

Small heart had Harriet for visiting. Only half an hour 
before her friend called for her at Mrs. Goddard's, her evil 
stars had led her to the very spot, where, at that moment, a 
trunk, directed to The Rev. Philip Elton^ White Hart, Bath, 
was to be seen under the operation of being lifted into the 
butcher's cart, which was to convey it to where the coaches 
passed ; and everything in this world, excepting that trunk and 
the direction, was consequently a blank. 

She went, however ; and when they reached the farm, and 
she was to be put down, at the end of the broad, neat gravel 
walk, which led between espalier apple-trees to the front door, 
the sight of everything which had given her so much pleasure 
the autumn before was beginning to revive a little local agita- 
tion ; and when they parted, Emma observed her to be looking 
around with a sort of fearful curiosity, which determined her 
not to allow the visit to exceed the proposed quarter of an hour. 
She went on herself, to give that portion of time to an old 
servant who was married, and settled in Donwell. 

The quarter of an hour brought her punctually to the white 
gate again ; and Miss Smith receiving her summons, was with 
her without delay, and unattended by any alarming young man. 
She came solitarily down the gravel walk — a Miss Martin just 
appearing at the door, and parting with her seemingly with 
ceremonious civility. 

163 



EMMA 

Harriet could not very soon give an intelligible account. 
She was feeling too much ; but at last Emma collected from 
her enough to understand the sort of meeting, and the sort of 
pain it was creating. She had seen only Mrs. Martin and the 
two girls. They had received her doubtingly, if not coolly ; 
and nothing beyond the merest commonplace had been talked 
almost all the time — till just at last, when Mrs. Martin's saying, 
all of a sudden, that she thought Miss Smith was grown, had 
brought on a more interesting subject, and a warmer manner. 
In that very room she had been measured last September with 
her two friends. There were the pencilled marks and memo- 
randums on the wainscot by the window. He had done it. 
They all seemed to remember the day, the hour, the party, the 
occasion, — to feel the same consciousness, the same regrets, — 
to be ready to return to the same good understanding ; and 
they were just growing again like themselves (Harriet, as 
Emma must suspect, as ready as the best of them to be cordial 
and happy), when the carriage reappeared, and all was over. 
The style of the visit, and the shortness of it, were then felt to 
be decisive. Fourteen minutes to be given to those with whom 
she had thankfully passed six weeks not six months ago ! 
Emma could not but picture it all, and feel how justly they 
might resent, how naturally Harriet must suffer. It was a bad 
business. She would have given a great deal, or endured a 
great deal, to have had the Martins in a higher rank of life. 
They were so deserving, that a little higher should have been 
enough ; but as it was, how could she have done otherwise ? 
Impossible ! She could not repent. They must be separated ; 
but there was a great deal of pain in the process — so much to 
herself at this time, that she soon felt the necessity of a little 
consolation, and resolved on going home by way of Randalls 
to procure it. Her mind was quite sick of Mr. Elton and 
the Martins. The refreshment of Randalls was absolutely 
necessary. 

It was a good scheme ; but on driving to the door they 
heard that neither ' master nor mistress was at home ; ' they 
had both been out some time ; the man believed they were 
gone to Hartfield. 

'This is too bad,' cried Emma, as they turned away. 
' And now we shall just miss them ; too provoking ; I do not 
know when I have been so disappointed.' And she leaned 

164 




In tliat very room she had been measured* 



EMMA 

back in the corner, to indulge her murmurs, or to reason them 
away ; probably a little of both — such being the commonest 
process of a not ill-disposed mind. Presently the carriage 
stopped ; she looked up ; it was stopped by Mr. and Mrs. 
Weston, who were standing to speak to her. There was 
instant pleasure in the sight of them, and still greater pleasure 
was conveyed in sound ; for Mr. Weston immediately accosted 
her with — 

' How d'ye do ? — how d'ye do ? We have been sitting with 
your father — glad to see him so well. Frank comes to-morrow 
— I had a letter this morning — we see him to-morrow by 
dinner-time to a certainty — he is at Oxford to-day, and he 
comes for a whole fortnight ; I knew it would be so. If he 
had come at Christmas he could not have stayed three days ; 
I was always glad he did not come at Christmas ; now we are 
going to have just the right weather for him, — fine, dry, settled 
weather. We shall enjoy him completely ; everything has 
turned out exactly as we could wish.' 

There was no resisting such news, no possibility of avoiding 
the influence of such a happy face as Mr. Weston's, confirmed 
as it all was by the words and the countenance of his wife, 
fewer and quieter, but not less to the purpose. To know that 
she thought his coming certain was enough to make Emma 
consider it so, and sincerely did she rejoice in their joy. It 
was a most delightful re-animation of exhausted spirits. The 
worn-out past was sunk in the freshness of what was coming ; 
and in the rapidity of half a moment's thought, she hoped Mr. 
Elton would now be talked of no more. 

Mr. Weston gave her the history of the engagements at 
Enscombe, which allowed his son to answer for having an 
entire fortnight at his command, as well as the route and the 
method of his journey ; and she listened, and smiled, and 
congratulated. 

' I shall soon bring him over to Hartfield,' said he, at the 
conclusion. 

Emma could imagine she saw a touch of the arm at this 
speech, from his wife. 

*We had better move on, Mr. Weston,' said she; 'we are 
detaining the girls.' 

' Well, well, I am ready ; ' and turning again to Emma, 
* but you must not be expecting such a very fine young man ; 

1 66 



EMMA 

you have only had my account, you know ; I daresay he is 
really nothing extraordinary,' — though his own sparkling eyes at 
the moment were speaking a very different conviction. 

Emma could look perfectly unconscious and innocent, and 
answer in a manner that appropriated nothing. 

'Think of me to-morrow, my dear Emma, about four 
o'clock,' was Mrs. Weston's parting injunction ; spoken with 
some anxiety, and meant only for her. 

' Four o'clock ! — depend upon it he will be here by three ' 
was Mr. Weston's quick amendment ; and so ended a most 
satisfactory meeting. Emma's spirits were mounted quite up 
to happiness ; everything wore a different air ; James and 
his horses seemed not half so sluggish as before. When she 
looked at the hedges, she thought the elder at least must soon 
be coming out ; and when she turned round to Harriet she 
saw something like a look of spring, a tender smile even there. 

* Will Mr. Frank Churchill pass through Bath as well as 
Oxford ? ' was a question, however, which did not augur much. 

But neither geography nor tranquillity could come all at 
once ; and Emma was now in a humour to resolve that they 
should both come in time. 

The morning of the interesting day arrived, and Mrs. 
Weston's faithful pupil did not forget either at ten, or eleven, 
or twelve o'clock, that she was to think of her at four. 

' My dear, dear, anxious friend,' said she, in mental soliloquy, 
while walking downstairs from her own room, ' always over- 
careful for everybody's comfort but your own ; I see you now 
in all your little fidgets, going again and again into his room, 
to be sure that all is right.' The clock struck twelve as she 
passed though the hall. *'Tis twelve, — I shall not forget to 
think of you for hours hence ; and, by this time to-morrow, 
perhaps, or a little later, I may be thinking of the possibility 
of their all calling here. I am sure they will bring him soon.' 

She opened the parlour door, and saw two gentlemen 
sitting with her father, — Mr. Weston and his son. They had 
been arrived only a few minutes ; and Mr. Weston had 
scarcely finished his explanation of Frank's being a day before 
his time, and her father was yet in the midst of his very civil 
welcome and congratulations, when she appeared, to have her 
share of surprise, introduction, and pleasure. 

The Frank Churchill so long talked of, so high in interest, 
167 



EMMA 

was actually before her — he was presented to her ; and she 
did not think too much had been said in his praise ; he was a 
very good-looking young man ; height, air, address, all were 
unexceptionable, and his countenance had a great deal of the 
spirit and liveliness of his father's ; he looked quick and 
sensible. She felt immediately that she should like him ; and 
there was a well-bred ease of manner, and a readiness to talk, 
which convinced her that he came intending to be acquainted 
with her, and that acquainted they soon must be. 

He had reached Randalls the evening before. She was 
pleased with the eagerness to arrive which had made him alter 
his plan, and travel earlier, later, and quicker, that he might 
gain half a day. 

' I told you yesterday,' cried Mr. Weston with exultation, 
— ' I told you all that he would be here before the time named. 
I remember what I used to do myself. One cannot creep 
upon a journey ; one cannot help getting on faster than one 
has planned ; and the pleasure of coming in upon one's friends 
before the look-out begins is worth a great deal more than any 
little exertion it needs.' 

'It is a great pleasure where one can indulge in it,' said 
the young man, 'though there are not many houses that I 
should presume on so far ; but in coming home I felt I might 
do anything.' 

The word home made his father look on him with fresh 
complacency. Emma was directly sure that he knew how to 
make himself agreeable ; the conviction was strengthened by 
what followed. He was very much pleased with Randalls, 
thought it was a most admirably arranged house, would hardly 
allow it even to be very small, admired the situation, the walk 
to Highbury, Highbury itself, Hartfield still more, and professed 
himself to have always felt the sort of interest in the country 
which none but one's ow7i country gives, and the greatest 
curiosity to visit it. That he should never have been able to 
indulge so amiable a feeling before passed suspiciously through 
Emma's brain ; but still, if it were a falsehood, it was a pleasant 
one, and pleasantly handled. His manner had no air of study 
or exaggeration. He did really look and speak as if in a state 
of no common enjoyment. 

Their subjects, in general, were such as belong to an open- 
ing acquaintance. On his side were the inquiries, — ' Was she 

1 68 



EMMA 

a horsewoman? — Pleasant rides? — Pleasant walks? — Had 
they a large neighbourhood? — Highbury, perhaps, afforded 
society enough ? — There were several very pretty houses in 
and about it. — Balls — had they balls? — Was it a musical 
society ? ' 

But when satisfied on all these points, and their acquaintance 
proportionably advanced, he contrived to find an opportunity, 
while their two fathers were engaged with each other, of 
introducing his mother-in-law, and speaking of her with so 
much handsome praise, so much warm admiration, so much 
gratitude for the happiness she secured to his father, and her 
very kind reception of himself, as was an additional proof of 
his knowing how to please — and of his certainly thinking it 
worth while to try to please her. He did not advance a word 
of praise beyond what she knew to be thoroughly deserved by 
Mrs. Weston ; but, undoubtedly, he could know very little of 
the matter. He understood what would be welcome ; he could 
be sure of little else. 'His father's marriage,' he said, 'had 
been the wisest measure : every friend must rejoice in it ; and 
the family from whom he had received such a blessing must 
be ever considered as having conferred the highest obligation 
on him.' 

He got as near as he could to thanking her for Miss 
Taylor's merits, without seeming quite to forget that, in the 
common course of things, it was to be rather supposed that 
Miss Taylor had formed Miss Woodhouse's character than 
Miss AVoodhouse Miss Taylor's. And at last, as if resolved to 
qualify his opinion completely for travelling round to its object, 
he wound it all up with astonishment at the youth and beauty 
of her person. 

' Elegant, agreeable manners I was prepared for,' said he ; 
' but I confess that, considering everything, I had not expected 
more than a very tolerably well-looking woman of a certain 
age ; I did not know that I was to find a pretty young woman 
in Mrs. Weston.' 

'You cannot see too much perfection in Mrs. Weston for 
my feelings,' said Emma ; ' were you to guess her to be eigh- 
teen^ I should listen with pleasure ; but she would be ready to 
quarrel with you for using such words. Don't let her imagine 
that you have spoken of her as a pretty young woman.' 

' I hope I should know better,' he replied ; ' no, depend 
169 



EMMA 

upon it (with a gallant bow), that in addressing Mrs. Weston 
I shall understand whom I might praise without any danger of 
being thought extravagant in my terms.' 

Emma wondered whether the same suspicion of what might 
be expected from their knowing each other, which had taken 
strong possession of her mind, had ever crossed his ; and 
whether his compliments were to be considered as marks of 
acquiescence, or proofs of defiance. She must see more of him 
to understand his ways ; at present, she only felt they were 
agreeable. 

She had no doubt of what Mr. Weston was often thinking 
about. His quick eye she detected again and again glancing 
towards them with a happy expression ; and even, when he 
might have determined not to look, she was confident that he 
was often listening. 

Her own father's perfect exemption from any thought of the 
kind, the entire deficiency in him of all such sort of penetration 
or suspicion, was a most comfortable circumstance. Happily, 
he was not further from approving matrimony than from fore- 
seeing it. Though always objecting to every marriage that 
was arranged, he never suffered beforehand from the apprehen- 
sion of any ; it seemed as if he could not think so ill of any 
two persons' understanding as to suppose they meant to marry 
till it were proved against them. She blessed the favouring 
blindness. He could now, without the drawback of a single 
unpleasant surmise, without a glance forward at any possible 
treachery in his guest, give way to all his natural kind-hearted 
civility in solicitous inquiries after Mr. Frank Churchill's ac- 
commodation on his journey, through the sad evils of sleeping 
two nights on the road, and express very genuine unmixed 
anxiety to know that he had certainly escaped catching cold, — 
which, however, he could not allow him to feel quite assured 
of himself, till after another night. 

A reasonable visit paid, Mr. Weston began to move. 

' He must be going. He had business at the Crown about 
his hay, and a great many errands for Mrs. Weston at Ford's ; 
but he need not hurry anybody else.' His son, too well bred 
to hear the hint, rose immediately also, saying — 

' As you are going farther on business, sir, I will take the 
opportunity of paying a visit, which must be paid some day or 
other, and therefore may as well be paid now. I have the 

170 



EMMA 

honour of being acquainted with a neighbour of yours (turning 
to Emma), a lady residing in or near Highbury ; a family of 
the name of Fairfax. I shall have no difficulty, I suppose, in 
finding the house ; though Fairfax, I believe, is not the proper 
name, — I should rather say Barnes or Bates. Do you know 
any family of that name ? ' 

'To be sure we do,' cried his father; 'Mrs. Bates — we 
passed her house — I saw Miss Bates at the window. True, 
true, you are acquainted with Miss Fairfax ; I remember you 
knew her at Weymouth, and a fine girl she is. Call upon her, 
by all means.' 

'There is no necessity for my calling this morning,' said 
the young man ; ' another day would do as well ; but there 
was that degree of acquaintance at Weymouth which ' 

*Oh, go to-day, go to-day. Do not defer it. What is 
right to be done cannot be done too soon. And, besides, I 
must give you a hint, Frank — any want of attention to her here 
should be carefully avoided. You saw her with the Campbells, 
when she was the equal of everybody she mixed with, but here 
she is with a poor old grandmother who has barely enough 
to live on. If you do not call early it will be a slight.' 

The son looked convinced. 

' I have heard her speak of the acquaintance,' said Emma ; 
' she is a very elegant young woman.' 

He agreed to it, but with so quiet a ' Yes,' as inclined her 
almost to doubt his real concurrence ; and yet there must be 
a very distinct sort of elegance for the fashionable world, if 
Jane Fairfax could be thought only ordinarily gifted with it. 

* If you were never particularly struck by her manners 
before,' said she, ' I think you will to-day. You will see her 
to advantage ; see her and hear her — no, I am afraid you will 
not hear her at all, for she has an aunt who never holds her 
tongue.' 

' You are acquainted with Miss Jane Fairfax, sir, are you ? ' 
said Mr. Woodhouse, always the last to make his way in con- 
versation ; * then give me leave to assure you that you will 
find her a very agreeable young lady. She is staying here on 
a visit to her grandmamma and aunt, very worthy people ; I 
have known them all my life. They will be extremely glad to 
see you, I am sure ; and one of my servants shall go with you 
to show you the way.' 

171 



EMMA 

' My dear sir, upon no account in the world ; my father can 
direct me.' 

' But your father is not going so far ; he is only going to 
the Crown, quite on the other side of the street, and there are 
a great many houses ; you might be very much at a loss, and 
it is a very dirty walk, unless you keep on the footpath ; but 
my coachman can tell you where you had best cross the street.' 

Mr. Frank Churchill still declined it, looking as serious as 
he could ; and his father gave his hearty support, by calling 
out, ' My good friend, this is quite unnecessary ; Frank knows 
a puddle of water when he sees it, and as to Mrs. Bates's, he 
may get there from the Crown in a hop, step, and jump.' 

They are permitted to go alone ; and with a cordial nod 
from one, and a graceful bow from the other, the two gentle- 
men took leave. Emma remained very well pleased with this 
beginning of the acquaintance, and could now engage to think 
of them all at Randalls any hour of the day, with full confidence 
in their comfort. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

The next morning brought Mr. Frank Churchill again. He 
came with Mrs. Weston, to whom and to Highbury he seemed 
to take very cordially. He had been sitting with her, it 
appeared, most companionably at home, till her usual hour of 
exercise ; and on being desired to choose their walk, immedi- 
ately fixed on Highbury. ' He did not doubt there being very 
pleasant walks in every direction, but if left to him, he should 
always choose the same. Highbury, that airy, cheerful, happy- 
looking Highbury, would be his constant attraction.' High- 
bury, with Mrs. Weston, stood for Hartfield ; and she trusted 
to its bearing the same construction with him. They walked 
thither directly. 

Emma had hardly expected them ; for Mr. Weston, who 
had called in for half a minute, in order to hear that his son 
was very handsome, knew nothing of their plans ; and it was 
an agreeable surprise to her, therefore, to perceive them walk- 
ing up to the house together, arm in arm. She was wanting 
to see him again ; and especially to see him in company with 

172 



EMMA 

Mrs. Weston, upon his behaviour to whom her opinion of him 
was to depend. If he were deficient there, nothing should 
make amends for it. But on seeing them together, she became 
perfectly satisfied. It was not merely in fine words or hyper- 
bolical compliment that he paid his duty ; nothing could be 
more proper or pleasing than his whole manner to her, — 
nothing could more agreeably denote his wish of considering 
her as a friend and securing her affection. And there was 
time enough for Emma to form a reasonable judgment, as 
their visit included all the rest of the morning. They were all 
three walking about together for an hour or two, — first round 
the shrubberies of Hartfield, and afterwards in Highbury. He 
was delighted with everything ; admired Hartfield sufficiently 
for Mr. Woodhouse's ear ; and when their going farther was 
resolved on, confessed his wish to be made acquainted with 
the whole village, and found matter of commendation and 
interest much oftener than Emma could have supposed. 

Some of the objects of his curiosity spoke very amiable 
feelings. He begged to be shown the house which his father 
had lived in so long, and which had been the home of his 
father's father ; and on recollecting that an old woman who 
had nursed him was still living, walked in quest of her cot- 
tage from one end of the street to the other ; and though in 
some points of pursuit or observation there was no positive 
merit, they showed, altogether, a goodwill towards Highbury 
in general which must be very like a merit to those he was 
with. 

Emma watched, and decided that, with such feelings as 
were now shown, it could not be fairly supposed that he had 
been ever voluntarily absenting himself ; that he had not been 
acting a part, or making a parade of insincere professions ; 
and that Mr. Knightley certainly had not done him justice. 

Their first pause was at the Crown Inn, an inconsiderable 
house, though the principal one of the sort, where a couple 
of pair of post-horses were kept, more for the convenience of 
the neighbourhood than from any run on the road ; and his 
companions had not expected to be detained by any interest 
excited there ; but in passing it they gave the history of the 
large room visibly added. It had been built many years 
ago for a ballroom, and while the neighbourhood had been 
in a particularly populous, dancing state, had been occasion- 

173 



EMMA 

ally used as such ; but such brilliant days had long passed 
away ; and now the highest purpose for which it was ever 
wanted was to accommodate a whist club established among 
the gentlemen and half gentlemen of the place. He was 
immediately interested. Its character as a ballroom caught 
him ; and instead of passing on, he stopt for several minutes 
at the two superior sashed windows, which were open, to 
look in and contemplate its capabilities, and lament that 
its original purpose should have ceased. He saw no fault 
in the room ; he would acknowledge none which they sug- 
gested. No ; it was long enough, broad enough, handsome 
enough. It would hold the very number for comfort. They 
ought to have balls there at least every fortnight through the 
winter. Why had not Miss Woodhouse revived the former 
good old days of the room ? She who could do anything 
in Highbury ! The want of proper families in the place, and 
the conviction that none beyond the place and its immediate 
environs could be tempted to attend, were mentioned ; but 
he was not satisfied. He could not be persuaded that so 
many good-looking houses as he saw around him could not 
furnish numbers enough for such a meeting ; and even when 
particulars were given and families described, he was still 
unwilling to admit that the inconvenience of such a mixture 
would be anything, or that there would be the smallest 
difficulty in everybody's returning into their proper place the 
next morning. He argued like a young man very much 
bent on dancing ; and Emma was rather surprised to see the 
constitution of the Weston prevail so decidedly against the 
habits of the Churchills. He seemed to have all the life and 
spirit, cheerful feelings, and social inclinations of his father, 
and nothing of the pride or reserve of Enscombe. Of pride, 
indeed, there was, perhaps, scarcely enough ; his indifference 
to a confusion of rank bordered too much on inelegance of 
mind. He could be no judge, however, of the evil he was 
holding cheap. It was but an effusion of lively spirits. 

At last he was persuaded to move on from the front of the 
Crown ; and being now almost facing the house where the 
Bates's lodged, Emma recollected his intended visit the day 
before, and asked him if he had paid it. 

' Yes, oh yes,' he replied, ' I was just going to mention it. 
A very successful visit. I saw all the three ladies ; and felt 

174 




He siopt to look in. 



EMMA 

very much obliged to you for your preparatory hint. If the 
talking aunt had taken me quite by surprise, it must have 
been the death of me. As it was, I was only betrayed into 
paying a most unreasonable visit. Ten minutes would have 
been all that was necessary, perhaps all that was proper ; 
and I had told my father I should certainly be at home 
before him, but there was no getting away, no pause ; and 
to my utter astonishment, I found, when he (finding me no- 
where else) joined me there at last, that I had been actually 
sitting with them very nearly three-quarters of hour. The 
good lady had not given me the possibility of escape before.' 

' And how did you think Miss Fairfax looking ? ' 

' 111, very ill ; — that is, if a young lady can ever be allowed 
to look ill ; but the expression is hardly admissible, Mrs. 
Weston, is it ? Ladies can never look ill ; and, seriously. 
Miss Fairfax is naturally so pale, as almost always to give 
the appearance of ill -health — a most deplorable want of 
complexion.' 

Emma would not agree to this, and began a warm defence 
of Miss Fairfax's complexion. ' It was certainly never brilliant, 
but she would not allow it to have a sickly hue in general ; 
and there was a softness and delicacy in her skin which gave 
peculiar elegance to the character of her face.' He listened 
with all due deference ; acknowledged that he had heard many 
people say the same ; but yet he must confess that to him 
nothing could make amends for the want of the fine glow of 
health. Where features were indififerent, a fine complexion gave 
beauty to them all ; and where they were good, the effect was — 
fortunately he need not attempt to describe what the effect was. 

'Well,' said Emma, 'there is no disputing about taste. 
At least you admire her, except her complexion.' 

He shook his head and laughed. ' I cannot separate Miss 
Fairfax and her complexion.' 

' Did you see her often at Weymouth ? Were you often 
in the same society ? ' 

At this moment they were approaching Ford's, and he 
hastily exclaimed, ' Ha ! this must be the very shop that 
everybody attends every day of their Uves, as my father 
informs me. He comes to Highbury himself, he says, six 
days out of the seven, and has always business at Ford's. 
If it be not inconvenient to you, pray let us go in, that I 

176 



EMMA 

may prove myself to belong to the place, — to be a true 
citizen of Highbury. I must buy something at Ford's. It 
will be taking out my freedom. I daresay they sell gloves.' 

' Oh yes, gloves and everything. I do admire your pat- 
riotism. You will be adored in Highbury. You were very 
popular before you came, because you were Mr. Weston's 
son ; but lay out half a guinea at Ford's, and your popularity 
will stand upon your own virtues.' 

They went in ; and while the sleek, well-tied parcels of 
' Men's Beavers ' and ' York Tan ' were bringing down and 
displaying on the counter, he said, — ' But I beg your pardon, 
Miss Woodhouse, you were speaking to me, you were saying 
something at the very moment of this burst of my amor patrice. 
Do not let me lose it ; I assure you the utmost stretch of 
public fame would not make me amends for the loss of any 
happiness in private life.' 

' I merely asked whether you had known much of Miss 
Fairfax and her party at Weymouth ? ' 

'And now that I understand your question, I must pro- 
nounce it to be a very unfair one. It is always the lady's 
right to decide on the degree of acquaintance. Miss Fair- 
fax must already have given her account. I shall not commit 
myself by claiming more than she may choose to allow.' 

' Upon my word, you answer as discreetly as she could do 
herself. But her account of everything leaves so much 
to be guessed ; she is so very reserved, so very unwilling 
to give the least information about anybody, that I really 
think you may say what you like of your acquaintance with her.' 

' May I, indeed ? Then I will speak the truth, and nothing 
suits me so well. I met her frequently at Weymouth. I had 
known the Campbells a little in town ; and at Weymouth 
we were very much in the same set. Colonel Campbell 
is a very agreeable man, and Mrs. Campbell a friendly, 
wai-m-hearted woman. I like them all.' 

' You know Miss Fairfax's situation in life, I conclude ; 
what she is destined to be.' 

< Yes ' — (rather hesitatingly) — ' I believe I do.' 

* You get upon delicate subjects, Emma,' said Mrs. 
Weston, smiling ; * remember that I am here. Mr. Frank 
Churchill hardly knows what to say when you speak of Miss 
Fairfax's situation in life. I will move a little farther off.' 

N 177 



EMMA 

' I certainly do forget to think of her^^ said Emma, ' as 
having ever been anything but my friend and my dearest 
friend.' 

He looked as if he fully understood and honoured such a 
sentiment. 

When the gloves were bought, and they had quitted the 
shop again, — ' Did you ever hear the young lady we were 
speaking of play 1 ' said Frank Churchill. 

' Ever hear her ! ' repeated Emma. ' You forget how 
much she belongs to Highbury. I have heard her every 
year of our lives since we both began. She plays charmingly.' 

* You think so, do you ? I wanted the opinion of some one 
who could really judge. She appeared to me to play well, 
that is, with considerable taste, but I know nothing of the 
matter myself. I am excessively fond of music, but without 
the smallest skill or right of judging of anybody's performance. 
I have been used to hear hers admired ; and I remember one 
proof of her being thought to play well : a man, a very musical 
man, and in love with another woman — engaged to her — on 
the point of marriage — would yet never ask that other woman 
to sit down to the instrument if the lady in question could sit 
down instead — never seemed to like to hear one if he could 
hear the other. That I thought, in a man of known musical 
talent, was some proof 

' Proof, indeed ! ' said Emma, highly amused. ' Mr. Dixon 
is very musical, is he ? We shall know more about them all, 
in half an hour, from you, than Miss Fairfax would have 
vouchsafed in half a year.' 

' Yes, Mr. Dixon and Miss Campbell were the persons \ 
and I thought it a very strong proof.' 

' Certainly, very strong it was ; to own the truth, a great 
deal stronger than, if / had been Miss Campbell, would have 
been at all agreeable to me. I could not excuse a man's 
having more music than love — more ear than eye — a more 
acute sensibility to fine sounds than to my feelings. How did 
Miss Campbell appear to like it ? ' 

' It was her very particular friend, you know.' 

' Poor comfort ! ' said Emma laughing. ' One would 
rather have a stranger preferred than one's very particular 
friend ; with a stranger it might not recur again ; but the 
misery of having a very particular friend always at hand, to do 

178 



EMMA 

everything better than one does one's self! Poor Mrs. Dixon ! 
Well, I am glad she is gone to settle in Ireland.' 

'You are right. It was not very flattering to Miss Camp- 
bell ; but she really did not seem to feel it.' 

' So much the better, or so much the worse ; I do not 
know which. But be it sweetness, or be it stupidity in her — 
quickness of friendship, or dulness of feeling — there was one 
person, I think, who must have felt it — Miss Fairfax herself. 
She must have felt the improper and dangerous distinction.' 

' As to that — I do not ' 

'Oh, do not imagine that I expect an account of Miss 
Fairfax's sensations from you, or from anybody else. They 
are known to no human being, I guess, but herself; but if she 
continued to play whenever she was asked by Mr. Dixon, one 
may guess what one chooses.' 

'There appeared such a perfectly good understanding 

among them all ' he began rather quickly, but checking 

himself, added, ' However, it is impossible for me to say on 
what terms they really were — how it might all be behind the 
scenes. I can only say that there was smoothness outwardly. 
But you, who have known Miss Fairfax from a child, must be 
a better judge of her character, and of how she is likely to 
conduct herself in critical situations, than I can be.' 

' I have known her from a child, undoubtedly ; we have 
been children and women together ; and it is natural to sup- 
pose that we should be intimate, — that we should have taken 
to each other whenever she visited her friends. But we never 
did. I hardly know how it has happened ; a little, perhaps, 
from that wickedness on my side which was prone to take 
disgust towards a girl so idolised and so cried up as she 
always was, by her aunt and grandmother, and all their set. 
And then, her reserve ; I never could attach myself to any 
one so completely reserved.' 

' It is a most repulsive quality, indeed,' said he. ' Ofte'n- 
times very convenient, no doubt, but never pleasing. There 
is safety in reserve, but no attraction. One cannot love a 
reserved person.' 

' Not till the reserve ceases towards one's self ; and then 
the attraction may be the greater. But I must be more in 
want of a friend, or an agreeable companion, than I have yet 
been, to take the trouble of conquering anybody's reserve to 

179 



EMMA 

procure one. Intimacy between Miss Fairfax and me is quite 
out of the question. I have no reason to think ill of her — not 
the least — except that such extreme and perpetual cautiousness 
of word and manner, such a dread of giving a distinct idea 
about anybody, is apt to suggest suspicions of there being 
something to conceal.' 

He perfectly agreed with her ; and after walking together 
so long, and thinking so much alike, Emma felt herself so 
well acquainted with him that she could hardly believe it to 
be only their second meeting. He was not exactly what she 
had expected ; less of the man of the world in some of his 
notions, less of the spoiled child of fortune, therefore better 
than she had expected. His ideas seemed more moderate — 
his feelings warmer. She was particularly struck by his 
manner of considering Mr. Elton's house, which, as well as 
the church, he would go and look at, and would not join them 
in finding much fault with. No, he could not believe it a bad 
house ; not such a house as a man was to be pitied for having. 
If it were to be shared with the woman he loved, he could not 
think any man to be pitied for having that house. There 
must be ample room in it for every real comfort. The man 
must be a blockhead who wanted more. 

Mrs. Weston laughed, and said he did not know what he 
was talking about. Used only to a large house himself, and 
without ever thinking how many advantages and accommoda- 
tions were attached to its size, he could be no judge of the 
privations inevitably belonging to a small one. But Emma, 
in her own mind, determined that he did know what he was 
talking about, and that he showed a very amiable inclination 
to settle early in life, and to marry, from worthy motives. He 
might not be aware of the inroads on domestic peace to be 
occasioned by no housekeeper's room, or a bad butler's pantry; 
but no doubt he did perfectly feel that Enscombe could not 
make him happy, and that whenever he were attached, he 
would willingly give up much of wealth to be allowed an early 
establishment. 



1 80 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XXV 

Emma's very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little 
shaken the following day by hearing that he was gone off to 
London, merely to have his hair cut. A sudden freak seemed 
to have seized him at breakfast, and he had sent for a chaise 
and set off, intending to return to dinner, but with no more 
important view that appeared than having his hair cut. 
There was certainly no harm in his travelling sixteen miles 
twice over on such an errand ; but there was an air of foppery 
and nonsense in it which she could not approve. It did not 
accord with the rationality of plan, the moderation in expense, 
or even the unselfish warmth of heart, which she had believed 
herself to discern in him yesterday. Vanity, extravagance, 
love of change, restlessness of temper, which must be doing 
something, good or bad ; heedlessness as to the pleasure of 
his father and Mrs. Weston, indifference as to how his con- 
duct might appear in general ; he became liable to all these 
changes. His father only called him a coxcomb, and thought 
it a very good story ; but that Mrs. Weston did not like it 
was clear enough, by her passing it over as quickly as possible, 
and making no other comment than that 'all young people 
would have their little whims.' 

With the exception of this little blot, Emma found that his 
visit hitherto had given her friend only good ideas of him. 
Mrs. Weston was very ready to say how attentive and pleasant 
a companion he made himself, — how much she saw to like in 
his disposition altogether. He appeared to have a very open 
temper, — certainly a very cheerful and lively one ; she could 
observe nothing wrong in his notions, a great deal decidedly 
right ; he spoke of his uncle with warm regard, was fond of 
talking of him ; said he would be the best man in the world 
if he were left to himself; and though there was no being 
attached to the aunt, he acknowledged her kindness with 
gratitude, and seemed to mean always to speak of her with 
respect. This was all very promising ; and, but for such an 
unfortunate fancy for having his hair cut, there was nothing to 
denote him unworthy of the distinguished honour which her 

i8i 




Having his hair cut. 



EMMA 

imagination had given him ; the honour, if not of being really 
in love with her, of being at least very near it, and saved only 
by her own indifference — (for still her resolution held of never 
marrying) — the honour, in short, of being marked out for her 
by all their joint acquaintance. 

Mr. Weston, on his side, added a virtue to the account 
which must have some weight. He gave her to understand 
that Frank admired her extremely — thought her very beautiful 
and very charming ; and with so much to be said for him 
altogether, she found she must not judge him harshly : — as 
Mrs. Weston observed, 'All young people would have their 
little whims.' 

There was one person among his new acquaintance in 
Surrey not so leniently disposed. In general he was judged, 
throughout the parishes of Don well and Highbury, with great 
candour ; liberal allowances were made for the little excesses 
of such a handsome young man, — one who smiled so often 
and bowed so well ; but there was one spirit among them not 
to be softened, from its power of censure, by bows or smiles, 
— Mr. Knightley. The circumstance was told him at Hart- 
field ; for the moment, he was silent ; but Emma heard him 
almost immediately afterwards say to himself, over a newspaper 
he held in his hand, ' Hum ! just the trifling, silly fellow I took 
him for.' She had half a mind to resent ; but an instant's 
observation convinced her that it was really said only to re- 
lieve his own feelings, and not meant to provoke ; and there- 
fore she let it pass. 

Although in one instance the bearers of not good tidings, 
Mr. and Mrs. Weston's visit this morning was in another re- 
spect particularly opportune. Something occurred while they 
were at Hartfield to make Emma want their advice ; and, which 
was still more lucky, she wanted exactly the advice they gave. 

This was the occurrence : — The Coles had been settled 
some years in Highbury, and were very good sort of people, 
friendly, liberal, and unpretending ; but, on the other hand, 
they were of low origin, in trade, and only moderately genteel. 
On their first coming into the country, they had lived in pro- 
portion to their income, quietly, keeping little company, and 
that little unexpensively ; but the last year or two had brought 
them a considerable increase of means — the house in town 
had yielded greater profits, and fortune in general had smiled 

183 



EMMA 

on them. With their weahh, their views increased ; their 
want of a larger house, their indination for more company. 
They added to their house, to their number of servants, to 
their expenses of every sort ; and by this time were, in fortune 
and style of living, second only to the family at Hartfield. 
Their love of society, and their new dining-room, prepared 
everybody for their keeping dinner- company ; and a few 
parties, chiefly among the single men, had already taken 
place. The regular and best families Emma could hardly 
suppose they would presume to invite, — neither Donwell, nor 
Hartfield, nor Randalls. Nothing should tempt her to go, if 
they did ; and she regretted that her father's known habits 
would be giving her refusal less meaning than she could wish. 
The Coles were very respectable in their way, but they ought 
to be taught that it was not for them to arrange the terms on 
which the superior families would visit them. This lesson, 
she very much feared, they would receive only from herself; 
she had little hope of Mr. Knightley, none of Mr. Weston. 

But she had made up her mind how to meet this presump- 
tion so many weeks before it appeared, that when the insult 
came at last, it found her very differently affected. Donwell 
and Randalls had received their invitation, and none had come 
for her father and herself; and Mrs. Weston's accounting for 
it with '■ I suppose they will not take the liberty with you ; 
they know you do not dine out,' was not quite sufBcient. She 
felt that she should like to nave had the power of refusal ; and 
afterwards, as the idea of the party to be assembled there, 
consisting precisely of those whose society was dearest to her, 
occurred again and again, she did not know that she might 
not have been tempted to accept. Harriet was to be there in 
the evening, and the Bateses. They had been speaking of it 
as they walked about Highbury the day before, and Frank 
Churchill had most earnestly lamented her absence. Might 
not the evening end in a dance ? had been a question of his. 
The bare possibility of it acted as a further irritation on her 
spirits ; and her being left in solitary grandeur, even supposing 
the omission to be intended as a compliment, was but poor 
comfort. 

It was the arrival of this very invitation, while the Westons 
were at Hartfield, which made their presence so acceptable ; 
for though her first remark on reading it was that ' Of course it 

184 



EMMA 

must be declined,' she so very soon proceeded to ask them 
what they advised her to do, that their advice for her going 
was most prompt and successful. 

She owned that, considering everything, she was not ab- 
solutely without inclination for the party. The Coles expressed 
themselves so properly — there was so much real attention in 
the manner of it — so much consideration for her father. 
' They would have solicited the honour earlier, but had been 
waiting the arrival of a folding screen from London, which 
they hoped might keep Mr. Woodhouse from any draught of 
air, and therefore induce him the more readily to give them 
the honour of his company.' Upon the whole, she was very 
persuadable ; and it being briefly settled among themselves 
how it might be done without neglecting his comfort, — how 
certainly Mrs. Goddard, if not Mrs. Bates, might be depended 
on for bearing him company, — Mr. Woodhouse was to be 
talked into an acquiescence of his daughter's going out to 
dinner on a day now near at hand, and spending the whole 
evening away from him. As for his going, Emma did not 
wish him to think it possible ; the hours would be too late, 
and the party too numerous. He was soon pretty well 
resigned. 

* I am not fond of dinner-visiting,' said he ; * I never was. 
No more is Emma. Late hours do not agree with us. I am 
sorry Mr. and Mrs. Cole should have done it. I think it 
would be much better if they would come in one afternoon 
next summer, and take their tea with us ; take us in their 
afternoon walk, which they might do, as our hours are so 
reasonable, and yet get home without being out in the damp 
of the evening. The dews of a summer evening are what I 
would not expose anybody to. However, as they are so very 
desirous to have dear Emma dine with them, and as you will 
both be there, and Mr. Knightley too, to take care of her, I 
cannot wish to prevent it, provided the weather be what it 
ought, neither damp, nor cold, nor windy.' Then turning to 
Mrs. Weston with a look of gentle reproach, — 'Ah, Miss 
Taylor, if you had not married, you would have stayed at home 
with me.' 

'Well, sir,' cried Mr. Weston, *as I took Miss Taylor 
away, it is incumbent on me to supply her place, if I can ; and 
I will step to Mrs. Goddard in a moment, if you wish it,' 

i8s 



EMMA 

But the idea of anything to be done in a inovtent was 
increasing, not lessening, Mr. Woodhouse's agitation. The 
ladies knew better how to allay it. Mr. Weston must be quiet, 
and everything deliberately arranged. 

With this treatment, Mr. Woodhouse was soon composed 
enough for talking as usual. ' He should be happy to see 
Mrs. Goddard. He had a great regard for Mrs. Goddard ; 
and Emma should write a line and invite her. James could 
take the note. But first of all, there must be an answer 
written to Mrs. Cole.' 

' You will make my excuses, my dear, as civilly as possible. 
You will say that I am quite an invalid, and go nowhere, and 
therefore must decline their obliging invitation ; beginning 
with my compliments^ of course. But you will do everything 
right. I need not tell you what is to be done. We must 
remember to let James know that the carriage will be wanted 
on Tuesday. I shall have no fears for you with him. We 
have never been there above once since the new approach was 
made ; but still I have no doubt that James will take you very 
safely ; and when you get there, you must tell him at what 
time you would have him come for you again ; and you had 
better name an early hour. You will not like staying late. 
You will get very tired when tea is over.' 

' But you would not wish me to come away before I am 
tired, papa.' 

' Oh no, my love ; but you will soon be tired. There will 
be a great many people talking at once. You will not like 
the noise.' 

' But, my dear sir,' cried Mr. Weston, ' if Emma comes 
away early, it will be breaking up the party.' 

'And no great harm if it does,' said Mr. Woodhouse. 
' The sooner every party breaks up the better.' 

' But you do not consider how it may appear to the Coles. 
Emma's going away directly after tea might be giving offence. 
They are good-natured people, and think little of their own 
claims ; but still they must feel that anybody's hurrying away 
is no great compliment ; and Miss Woodhouse's doing it would 
be more thought of than any other person's in the room. 
You would not wish to disappoint and mortify the Coles, I am 
sure, sir ; friendly, good sort of people as ever lived, and who 
have been your neighbours these ten years.' 

i86 



EMMA 

* No, upon no account in the world. Mr. Weston, I am 
much obliged to you for reminding me. I should be extremely 
sorry to be giving them any pain. I know what worthy people 
they are. Perry tells me that Mr. Cole never touches malt 
liquor. You would not think it to look at him, but he is 
bilious — Mr. Cole is very bilious. No, I would not be the 
means of giving them any pain. My dear Emma, we must 
consider this. I am sure, rather than run the risk of hurting 
Mr. and Mrs. Cole, you would stay a little longer than you 
might wish. You will not regard being tired. You will be 
perfectly safe, you know, among your friends. 

* Oh yes, papa. I have no fears at all for myself ; and I 
should have no scruples of staying as late as Mrs. Weston, but 
on your account. I am only afraid of your sitting up for me. 
I am not afraid of your not being exceedingly comfortable 
with Mrs. Goddard. She loves piquet, you know ; but when 
she is gone home, I am afraid you will be sitting up by your- 
self, instead of going to bed at your usual time ; and the idea 
of that would entirely destroy my comfort. You must promise 
me not to sit up.' 

He did, on the condition of some promises on her side : 
such as that, if she came home cold, she would be sure to 
warm herself thoroughly ; if hungry, that she would take some- 
thing to eat ; that her own maid should sit up for her ; and 
that Serle and the butler should see that everything were safe 
in the house as usual. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

Frank Churchill came back again ; and if he kept his 
father's dinner waiting it was not known at Hartfield ; for 
Mrs. Weston was too anxious for his being a favourite with 
Mr. Woodhouse, to betray any imperfection which could be 
concealed. 

He came back, had had his hair cut, and laughed at him- 
self with a very good grace, but without seeming really at all 
ashamed of what he had done. He had no reason to wish 
his hair longer to conceal any confusion of face ; no reason to 

187 



EMMA 

wish the money unspent to improve his spirits. He was 
quite as undaunted and as Hvely as ever; and, after seeing 
him, Emma thus moralised to herself : — 

* I do not know whether it ought to be so, but certainly 
silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible 
people in an impudent way. Wickedness is always wickedness, 
but folly is not always folly. It depends upon the character of 
those who handle it. Mr. Knightley, he is 7iot a trifling, silly 
young man. If he were, he would have done this differently. 
He would either have gloried in the achievement, or been 
ashamed of it. There would have been either the ostenta- 
tion of a coxcomb, or the evasions of a mind too weak to 
defend its own vanities. No, I am perfectly sure that he is 
not trifling or silly.' 

With Tuesday came the agreeable prospect of seeing him 
again, and for a longer time than hitherto ; of judging of his 
general manners, and, by inference, of the meaning of his 
manners towards herself; of guessing how soon it might be 
necessary for her to throw coldness into her air ; and of fancy- 
ing what the observations of all those might be, who were 
now seeing them together for the first time. 

She meant to be very happy, in spite of the scene being 
laid at Mr. Cole's ; and without being able to forget that 
among the failings of Mr. Elton, even in the days of his 
favour, none had disturbed her more than his propensity to 
dine with Mr. Cole. 

Her father's comfort was amply secured, Mrs. Bates as 
well as Mrs. Goddard being able to come ; and her last pleas- 
ing duty, before she left the house, was to pay her respects 
to them as they sat together after dinner ; and while her 
father was fondly noticing the beauty of her dress, to make 
the two ladies all the amends in her power, by helping them 
to large slices of cake and full glasses of wine, for whatever 
unwilling self-denial his care of their constitution might have 
obliged them to practise during the meal. She had provided 
a plentiful dinner for them ; she wished she could know that 
they had been allowed to eat it. 

She followed another carriage to Mr, Cole's door ; and was 
pleased to see that it was Mr. Knightley's ; for Mr. Knightley 
keeping no horses, having little spare money and a great 
deal of health, activity, and independence, was too apt, in 

1 88 



EMMA 

Emma's opinion, to get about as he could, and not use his 
carriage so often as became the owner of Donwell Abbey. 
She had an opportunity now of speaking her approbation 
while warm from her heart, for he stopped to hand her out. 

* This is coming as you should do,' said she ; ' like a gentle- 
man. I am quite glad to see you.' 

He thanked her, observing, ' How lucky that we should 
arrive at the same moment ; for, if we had met first in the 
drawing-room, I doubt whether you would have discerned me 
to be more of a gentleman than usual. You might not have 
distinguished how I came by my look or manner.' 

' Yes, I should ; I am sure I should. There is always a 
look of consciousness or bustle when people come in a way 
which they know to be beneath them. You think you carry 
it off very well, I daresay ; but with you it is a sort of bravado, 
an air of affected unconcern ; I always observe it whenever I 
meet you under those circumstances. Now you have nothing 
to try for. You are not afraid of being supposed ashamed. 
You are not striving to look taller than anybody else. Now 
I shall really be very happy to walk into the same room with 
you.' 

' Nonsensical girl ! ' was his reply, but not at all in anger. 

Emma had as much reason to be satisfied with the rest of 
the party as with Mr. Knightley. She was received with a 
cordial respect which could not but please, and given all the 
consequence she could wish for. When the Westons arrived, 
the kindest looks of love, the strongest of admiration, were 
for her, from both husband and wife ; the son approached her 
with a cheerful eagerness which marked her as his peculiar 
object, and at dinner she found him seated by her ; and, as 
she firmly believed, not without some dexterity on his side. 

The party was rather large, as it included one other family, 
— a proper unobjectionable country family, whom the Coles 
had the advantage of naming among their acquaintance, — 
and the male part of Mr. Cox's family, the lawyer of High- 
bury. The less worthy females were to come in the evening, 
with Miss Bates, Miss Fairfax, and Miss Smith ; but already, 
at dinner, they were too numerous for any subject of con- 
versation to be general ; and, while politics and Mr. Elton 
were talked over, Emma could fairly surrender all her atten- 
tion to the pleasantness of her neighbour. The first remote 

189 



EMMA 

sound to which she felt herself obliged to attend was the name 
of Jane Fairfax. Mrs. Cole seemed to be relating something 
of her that was expected to be very interesting. She listened, 
and found it well worth listening to. That very dear part of 
Emma, her fancy, received an amusing supply. Mrs. Cole 
was telling that she had been calling on Miss Bates ; and, as 
soon as she entered the room, had been struck by the sight 
of a pianoforte, a very elegant -looking instrument ; not a 
grand, but a large-sized square pianoforte ; and the substance 
of the story, the end of all the dialogue which ensued of sur- 
prise, and inquiry, and congratulations on her side, and ex- 
planations on Miss Bates's, was, that this pianoforte had 
arrived from Broadwood's the day before, to the great astonish- 
ment of both aunt and niece, entirely unexpected ; that, at 
first, by Miss Bates's account, Jane herself was quite at a loss, 
quite bewildered to think who could possibly have ordered 
it ; but now they were both perfectly satisfied that it could be 
from only one quarter, — of course it must be from Colonel 
Campbell. 

' One can suppose nothing else,' added Mrs. Cole ; ' and 
I was only surprised that there could ever have been a doubt. 
But Jane, it seems, had a letter from them very lately, and 
not a word was said about it. She knows their ways best, 
but I should not consider their silence as any reason for their 
not meaning to make the present. They might choose to 
surprise her.' 

Mrs. Cole had many to agree with her ; everybody who 
spoke on the subject was equally convinced that it must come 
from Colonel Campbell, and equally rejoiced that such a 
present had been made ; and there were enough ready to 
speak to allow Emma to think her own way, and still listen to 
Mrs. Cole. 

' I declare, I do not know when I have heard anything 
that has given me more satisfaction. It always has quite 
hurt me that Jane Fairfax, who plays so delightfully, should 
not have an instrument. It seemed quite a shame, especially 
considering how many houses there are where fine instruments 
are absolutely thrown away. This is like giving ourselves a 
slap, to be sure ; and it was but yesterday I was telling Mr. 
Cole I really was ashamed to look at our new grand pianoforte 
in the drawing-room, while I do not know one note from 

I go 



EMMA 

another, and our little girls, who are but just beginning, perhaps 
may never make anything of it ; and there is poor Jane Fair- 
fax, who is mistress of music, has not anything of the nature 
of an instrument, not even the pitifulest old spinet in the 
world, to amuse herself with. I was saying this to Mr. Cole 
but yesterday, and he quite agreed with me ; only he is so 
particularly fond of music that he could not help indulging 
himself in the purchase, hoping that some of our good neigh- 
bours might be so obliging occasionally to put it to a better 
use than we can ; and that really is the reason why the in- 
strument was bought — or else I am sure we ought to be 
ashamed of it. We are in great hopes that Miss Woodhouse 
may be prevailed with to try it this evening.' 

Miss Woodhouse made the proper acquiescence ; and find- 
ing that nothing more was to be entrapped from any communi- 
cation of Mrs. Cole's, turned to Frank Churchill. 

' Why do you smile ? ' said she. 

' Nay, why do you ? ' 

' Me ! I suppose I smile for pleasure at Colonel Camp- 
bell's being so rich and so liberal. It is a handsome present.' 

' Very.' 

' I rather wonder that it was never made before.' 

' Perhaps Miss Fairfax has never been staying here so long 
before.' 

' Or that he did not give her the use of their own instru- 
ment, which must now be shut up in London, untouched by 
anybody.' 

' That is a grand pianoforte, and he might think it too 
large for Mrs. Bates's house.' 

'You may say what you choose, but your countenance 
testifies that your thoughts on this subject are very much like 
mine.' 

' I do not know. I rather believe you are giving me more 
credit for acuteness than I deserve. I smile because you 
smile, and shall probably suspect whatever I find you suspect ; 
but at present I do not see what there is to question. If 
Colonel Campbell is not the person, who can be .? ' 

' What do you say to Mrs. Dixon ? ' 

' Mrs. Dixon ! very true, indeed. I had not thought of 
Mrs. Dixon. She must know, as well as her father, how ac- 
ceptable an instrument would be ; and perhaps the mode of it, 

191 



EMMA 

the mystery, the surprise, is more like a young woman's 
scheme than an elderly man's. It is Mrs. Dixon, I daresay. 
I told you that your suspicions would guide mine.' 

' If so, you must extend your suspicions, and comprehend 
Mr. Dixon in them.' 

' Mr. Dixon ! very well. Yes, I immediately perceive that 
it must be the joint present of Mr. and Mrs. Dixon. We 
were speaking the other day, you know, of his being so warm 
an admirer of her performance.' 

'Yes, and what you told me on that head confirmed an 
idea which I had entertained before. I do not mean to reflect 
upon the good intentions of either Mr. Dixon or Miss Fairfax ; 
but I cannot help suspecting either that, after making his 
proposals to her friend, he had the misfortune to fall in love 
with her^ or that he became conscious of a little attachment on 
her side. One might guess twenty things without guessing 
exactly the right ; but I am sure there must be a particular 
cause for her choosing to come to Highbury, instead of going 
with the Campbells to Ireland. Here, she must be leading a 
life of privation and penance ; there, it would have been all 
enjoyment. As to the pretence of trying her native air, I 
look upon that as a mere excuse. In the summer it might 
have passed ; but what can anybody's native air do for them 
in the months of January, February, and March ? Good fires 
and carriages would be much more to the purpose in most 
cases of delicate health, and I daresay in hers. I do not re- 
quire you to adopt all my suspicions, though you make so noble 
a profession of doing it, but I honestly tell you what they are.' 

' And, upon my word, they have an air of great probability. 
Mr. Dixon's preference of her music to her friend's I can 
answer for being very decided.' 

' And then, he saved her life. Did you ever hear of that ? 
A water party ; and by some accident she was falling over- 
board. He caught her.' 

' He did. I was there — one of the party.' 

' Were you really 1 Well 1 But you observed nothing, of 
course, for it seems to be a new idea to you. If I had been 
there, I think I should have made some discoveries.' 

* I daresay you would ; but I, simple I, saw nothing but 
the fact that Miss Fairfax was nearly dashed from the vessel, 
and that Mr. Dixon caught her — it was the work of a moment. 

192 



EMMA 

And though the consequent shock and alarm were very great, 
and much more durable — indeed, I believe it was half an hour 
before any of us were comfortable again — yet that was too 
general a sensation for anything of peculiar anxiety to be 
observable. I do not mean to say, however, that you might 
not have made discoveries.' 

The conversation was here interrupted. They were called 
on to share in the awkwardness of a rather long interval be- 
tween the courses, and obliged to be as fonnal and as orderly 
as the others ; but when the table was again safely covered, 
when every corner dish was placed exactly right, and occupa- 
tion and ease were generally restored, Emma said — 

'The arrival of this pianoforte is decisive with me. I 
wanted to know a little more, and this tells me quite enough. 
Depend upon it, we shall soon hear that it is a present from 
Mr. and Mrs. Dixon.' 

' And if the Dixons should absolutely deny all knowledge 
of it, we must conclude it to come from the Campbells.' 

' No, I am sure it is not from the Campbells. Miss Fairfax 
knows it is not from the Campbells, or they would have been 
guessed at first. She would not have been puzzled, had she 
dared fix on them. I may not have convinced you, perhaps, 
but I am perfectly convinced myself that Mr. Dixon is a prin- 
cipal in the business.' 

' Indeed, you injure me if you supposed me unconvinced. 
Your reasonings carry my judgment along with them entirely. 
At first, while I supposed you satisfied that Colonel Campbell 
was the giver, I saw it only as a paternal kindness, and 
thought it the most natural thing in the world. But when you 
mentioned Mrs. Dixon, I felt how much more probable that it 
should be the tribute of warm female friendship. And now I 
can see it in no other light than as an offering of love.' 

There was no occasion to press the matter further. The 
conviction seemed real ; he looked as if he felt it. She said 
no more, — other subjects took their turn ; and the rest of the 
dinner passed away ; the dessert succeeded ; the children 
came in, and were talked to and admired amid the usual rate 
of conversation ; a few clever things said, a few downright 
silly, but by much the larger proportion neither the one nor 
the other — nothing worse than everyday remarks, dull repeti- 
tions, old news, and heavy jokes. 

o 193 



EMMA 

The ladies had not been long in the drawing-room before 
the other ladies, in their different divisions, arrived. Emma 
watched the entrde of her own particular little friend ; and if 
she could not exult in her dignity and grace, she could not 
only love the blooming sweetness and the artless manner, but 
could most heartily rejoice in that light, cheerful, unsentimental 
disposition which allowed her so many alleviations of pleasure 
in the midst of the pangs of disappointed affection. There 
she sat — and who would have guessed how many tears she 
had been lately shedding ? To be in company, nicely dressed 
herself, and seeing others nicely dressed, to sit and smile and 
look pretty, and say nothing, was enough for the happiness of 
the present hour. Jane Fairfax did look and move superior ; 
but Emma suspected she might have been glad to change 
feelings with Harriet, — very glad to have purchased the mor- 
tification of having loved — yes, of having loved even Mr. Elton 
in vain, — by the surrender of all the dangerous pleasure of know- 
ing herself beloved by the husband of her friend. 

In so large a party it was not necessary that Emma should 
approach her. She did not wish to speak of the pianoforte, 
she felt too much in the secret herself, to think the appearance 
of curiosity or interest fair, and therefore purposely kept at a 
distance ; but by the others, the subject was almost immedi- 
ately introduced, and she saw the blush of consciousness with 
which congratulations were received, the blush of guilt which 
accompanied the name of 'my excellent friend Colonel 
Campbell.' 

Mrs. Weston, kind-hearted and musical, was particularly 
interested by the circumstance, and Emma could not help 
being amused at her perseverance in dwelling on the subject ; 
and having so much to ask and to say as to tone, touch, and 
pedal, totally unsuspicious of that wish of saying as little 
about it as possible, which she plainly read in the fair heroine's 
countenance. 

They were soon joined by some of the gentlemen ; and 
the very first of the early was Frank Churchill. In he walked, 
the first and the handsomest ; and after paying his com- 
pliments en passant to Miss Bates and her niece, made his 
way directly to the opposite side of the circle, where sat Miss 
Woodhouse ; and till he could find a seat by her, would not 
sit at all. Emma divined what everybody present must be 

194 



EMMA 

thinking. She was his object, and everybody must perceive 
it. She introduced him to her friend Miss Smith, and, at 
convenient moments afterwards, heard what each thought of 
the other. ' He had never seen so lovely a face, and was de- 
lighted with her naivetS.^ And she, — ' Only to be sure it was 
paying him too great a compliment, but she did think there 
were some looks a little like Mr. Elton.' Emma restrained 
her indignation, and only turned from her in silence. 

Smiles of intelligence passed between her and the gentleman 
on first glancing towards Miss Fairfax ; but it was most 
prudent to avoid speech. He told her that he had been 
impatient to leave the dining-room — hated sitting long — was 
always the first to move when he could — that his father, Mr. 
Knightley, Mr. Cox, and Mr. Cole, were left very busy over 
parish business — that as long as he had stayed, however, it 
had been pleasant enough, as he found them in general a set 
of gentlemen-like, sensible men ; and spoke so handsomely of 
Highbury altogether — thought it so abundant in agreeable 
families — that Emma began to feel she had been used to 
despise the place rather too much. She questioned him as to 
the society in Yorkshire, the extent of the neighbourhood 
about Enscombe, and the sort ; and could make out from his 
answers that, as far as Enscombe was concerned, there was 
very little going on ; that their visitings were among a range 
of great families, none very near ; and that even when days 
were fixed, and invitations accepted, it was an even chance 
that Mrs. Churchill were not in health or spirits for going ; 
that they made a point of visiting no fresh person ; and that, 
though he had his separate engagements, it was not without 
difficulty, without considerable address, at times^ that he could 
get away, or introduce an acquaintance for a night. 

She saw that Enscombe could not satisfy, and that High- 
bury, taken in its best, might reasonably please a young man 
who had more retirement at home than he liked. His 
importance at Enscombe was very evident. He did not boast, 
but it naturally betrayed itself that he had persuaded his aunt 
where his uncle could do nothing, and on her laughing and 
noticing it, he owned that he believed (excepting one or two 
points) he could with time persuade her to anything. One 
of those points on which his influence failed he then mentioned. 
He had wanted very much to go abroad — had been very 

195 



EMMA 

eager indeed to be allowed to travel — but she would not 
hear of it. This had happened the year before. Now, he 
said, he was beginning to have no longer the same wish. 

The unpersuadable point, which he did not mention, Emma 
guessed to be good behaviour to his father. 

' I have made a most wretched discovery,' said he, after a 
short pause. ' I have been here a week to-morrow — half my 
time. I never knew days fly so fast. A week to-morrow ! — 
and I have hardly begun to enjoy myself But just got ac- 
quainted with Mrs. Weston, and others. I hate the recollection.' 

' Perhaps you may now begin to regret that you spent one 
whole day, out of so few, in having your hair cut.' 

' No,' said he, smiling, ' that is no subject of regret at all. 
I have no pleasure in seeing my friends, unless I can believe 
myself fit to be seen.' 

The rest of the gentlemen being now in the room, Emma 
found herself obliged to turn from him for a few minutes, and 
listen to Mr. Cole. When Mr. Cole had moved away, and 
her attention could be restored as before, she saw Frank 
Churchill looking intently across the room at Miss Fairfax, 
who was sitting exactly opposite, 

* What is the matter ? ' said she. 

He started. ' Thank you for rousing me,' he replied. ' I 
believe I have been very rude ; but really. Miss Fairfax has 
done her hair in so odd a way — so very odd a way — that I 
cannot keep my eyes from her. I never saw anything so 
outree I Those curls ! This must be a fancy of her own. I 
see nobody else looking like her. I must go and ask her 
whether it is an Irish fashion. Shall I ? — Yes, I will — I de- 
clare I will — and you shall see how she takes it ; — whether 
she colours.' 

He was gone immediately ; and Emma soon saw him 
standing before Miss Fairfax, and talking to her ; but as to 
its effect on the young lady, as he had improvidently placed 
himself exactly between them, exactly in front of Miss 
Fairfax, she could absolutely distinguish nothing. 

Before he could return to his chair, it was taken by Mrs. 
Weston. 

'This is the luxury of a large party,' said she; 'one can 
get near everybody, and say everything. My dear Emma, I 
am longing to talk to you. I have been making discoveries 

196 



EMMA 

and forming plans, just like yourself, and I must tell them 
while the idea is fresh. Do you know how Miss Bates and 
her niece came here ? ' 

* How ! — They were invited, were not they ? ' 

'Oh yes — but how they were conveyed hither? — the 
manner of their coming ? ' 

* They walked, I conclude. How else could they come ? ' 

' Very true. Well, a little while ago it occurred to me how 
very sad it would be to have Jane Fairfax walking home again, 
late at night, and cold as the nights are now. And as I 
looked at her, though I never saw her appear to more advan- 
tage, it struck me that she was heated, and would therefore 
be particularly liable to take cold. Poor girl ! I could not 
bear the idea of it ; so, as soon as Mr. Weston came into the 
room, and I could get at him, I spoke to him about the 
carriage. You may guess how readily he came into my 
wishes ; and having his approbation, I made my way directly 
to Miss Bates, to assure her that the carriage would be at her 
service before it took us home ; for I thought it would be 
making her comfortable at once. Good soul ! she was as 
grateful as possible, you may be sure. " Nobody was ever so 
fortunate as herself!" — but with many, many thanks, — "there 
was no occasion to trouble us, for Mr. Knightley's carriage had 
brought, and was to take them home again." I was quite 
surprised ; — very glad, I am sure ; but really quite surprised. 
Such a very kind attention — and so thoughtful an attention ! — 
the sort of thing that so few men would think of And, in 
short, from knowing his usual ways, I am very much inclined to 
think that it was for their accommodation the carriage was used 
at all. I do suspect he would not have had a pair of horses for 
himself, and that it was only as an excuse for assisting them.' 

* Very likely,' said Emma ; ' nothing more likely. I know 
no man more likely than Mr. Knightley to do the sort of thing 
— to do anything really good-natured, useful, considerate, or 
benevolent. He is not a gallant man, but he is a very humane 
one ; and this, considering Jane Fairfax's ill-health, would 
appear a case of humanity to him ; — and for an act of 
unostentatious kindness there is nobody whom I would fix on 
more than on Mr. Knightley. I know he had horses to-day — 
for we arrived together ; and I laughed at him about it, but he 
said not a word that could betray.' 

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EMMA 

'Well,' said Mrs. Weston smiling, 'you give him credit 
for more simple, disinterested benevolence in this instance 
than I do; for while Miss Bates was speaking, a suspicion 
darted into my head, and I have never been able to get it out 
again. The more I think of it, the more probable it appears. 
In short, I have made a match between Mr. Knightley and 
Jane Fairfax. See the consequence of keeping you company ! 
— What do you say to it ? ' 

' Mr. Knightley and Jane Fairfax ! ' exclaimed Emma. 
' Dear Mrs. Weston, how could you think of such a thing ? — 
Mr. Knightley! — Mr. Knightley must not marry! — You 
would not have little Henry cut out from Donwell ? — Oh no, 
no, — Henry must have Donwell. I cannot at all consent to 
Mr. Knightley's marrying ; and I am sure it is not at all 
likely. I am amazed that you should think of such a thing.' 

' My dear Emma, I have told you what led me to think of 
it. I do not want the match — I do not want to injure dear 
little Henry — but the idea has been given me by circum- 
stances ; and if Mr. Knightley really wished to marry, you 
would not have him refrain on Henry's account, a boy of six 
years old, who knows nothing of the matter ? ' 

* Yes, I would. I could not bear to have Henry supplanted. 
Mr. Knightley marry ! No, I have never had such an idea, 
and I cannot adopt it now. And Jane Fairfax, too, of all 
women ! ' 

' Nay, she has always been a first favourite with him, as you 
very well know.' 

' But the imprudence of such a match ! ' 

' I am not speaking of its prudence — merely its probability.' 

' I see no probability in it, unless you have any better 
foundation than what you mention. His good-nature, his 
humanity, as I tell you, would be quite enough to account for 
the horses. He has a great regard for the Bateses, you know, 
independent of Jane Fairfax — and is always glad to show them 
attention. My dear Mrs. Weston, do not take to match- 
making. You do it very ill. Jane Fairfax mistress of the 
Abbey I Oh no, no ; — every feeling revolts. For his own 
sake, I would not have him do so mad a thing.' 

' Imprudent, if you please — but not mad. Excepting in- 
equality of fortune, and perhaps a little disparity of age, I can 
see nothing unsuitable.' 

198 



1 



EMMA 

' But Mr. Knightley does not want to marry. I am sure 
he has not the least idea of it. Do not put it into his head. 
Why should he marry ? He is as happy as possible by him- 
self; with his farm, and his sheep, and his library, and all the 
parish to manage ; and he is extremely fond of his brother's 
children. He has no occasion to marry, either to fill up his 
time or his heart.' 

' My dear Emma, as long as he thinks so, it is so ; but if 
he really loves Jane Fairfax ' 

* Nonsense ! He does not care about Jane Fairfax. In 
the way of love, I am sure he does not. He would do any 
good to her, or her family ; but ' 

'Well,' said Mrs. Weston laughing, 'perhaps the greatest 
good he could do them would be to give Jane such a respect- 
able home.' 

' If it would be good to her, I am sure it would be evil to 
himself — a very shameful and degrading connection. How 
would he bear to have Miss Bates belonging to him ? To 
have her haunting the Abbey, and thanking him all day long 
for his great kindness in marrying Jane ? — " So very kind and 
obliging ! But he always had been such a very kind neigh- 
bour ! " And then fly off, through half a sentence, to her 
mother's old petticoat. " Not that it was such a very old 
petticoat either — for still it would last a great while, — and, 
indeed, she must thankfully say that their petticoats were all 
very strong." ' 

* For shame, Emma ! Do not mimic her. You divert me 
against my conscience. And, upon my word, I do not think 
Mr. Knightley would be much disturbed by Miss Bates. Little 
things do not irritate him. She might talk on ; and if he 
wanted to say anything himself, he would only talk louder, and 
drown her voice. But the question is not, whether it would be 
a bad connection for him, but whether he wishes it ; and I 
think he does. I have heard him speak, and so must you, so 
very highly of Jane Fairfax ! The interest he takes in her — 
his anxiety about her health — his concern that she should have 
no happier prospect ! I have heard him express himself so 
warmly on those points ! Such an admirer of her performance 
on the pianoforte, and of her voice ! I have heard him say, 
that he could listen to her for ever. Oh, and I had almost 
forgotten one idea that occurred to me — this pianoforte that 

199 



EMMA 

has been sent her by somebody — though we have all been so 
well satisfied to consider it a present from the Campbells, may 
it not be from Mr. Knightley ? I cannot help suspecting him. 
I think he is just the person to do it, even without being in 
love.' 

' Then it can be no argument to prove that he is in love. 
But I do not think it is at all a likely thing for him to do. 
Mr. Knightley does nothing mysteriously.' 

' I have heard him lamenting her having no instrument 
repeatedly — oftener than I should suppose such a circumstance 
would, in the common course of things, occur to him.' 

' Very well ; and if he had intended to give her one, he 
would have told her so.' 

' There might be scruples of delicacy, my dear Emma. I 
have a very strong notion that it comes from him. I am sure 
he was particularly silent when Mrs. Cole told us of it at 
dinner.' 

' You take up an idea, Mrs. Weston, and run away with it, 
as you have many a time reproached me with doing. I see 
no sign of attachment. I believe nothing of the pianoforte, 
and proof only shall convince me that Mr. Knightley has any 
thought of marrying Jane Fairfax.' 

They combated the point some time longer in the same way, 
Emma rather gaining ground over the mind of her friend ; for 
Mrs. Weston was the most used of the two to yield ; till a little 
bustle in the room showed them that tea was over, and the 
instrument in preparation ; and at the same moment Mr. Cole 
approaching to entreat Miss Woodhouse would do them the 
honour of trying it. Frank Churchill, of whom, in the eager- 
ness of her conversation with Mrs. Weston, she had been seeing 
nothing, except that he had found a seat by Miss Fairfax, 
followed Mr. Cole, to add his very pressing entreaties ; and as, 
in every respect, it suited Emma best to lead, she gave a very 
proper compliance. 

She knew the limitations of her own powers too well to 
attempt more than she could perform with credit ; she wanted 
neither taste nor spirit in the little things which are generally 
acceptable, and could accompany her own voice well. One 
accompaniment to her song took her agreeably by surprise — a 
second, slightly but correctly taken by Frank Churchill. Her 
pardon was duly begged at the close of the song, and every- 

200 



EMMA 

thing usual followed. He was accused of having a delightful 
voice, and a perfect knowledge of music, which was properly 
denied ; and that he knew nothing of the matter, and had no 
voice at all, roundly asserted. They sang together once more ; 
and Emma would then resign her place to Miss Fairfax, whose 
performance, both vocal and instrumental, she never could at- 
tempt to conceal from herself, was infinitely superior to her own. 

With mixed feelings she seated herself at a little distance 
from the numbers round the instrument, to listen. Frank 
Churchill sang again. They had sung together once or twice, 
it appeared, at Weymouth. But the sight of Mr. Knightley 
among the most attentive soon drew away half Emma's mind, 
and she fell into a train of thinking on the subject of Mrs. 
Weston's suspicions, to which the sweet sounds of the united 
voices gave only momentary interruptions. Her objections to 
Mr. Knightley's marrying did not in the least subside. She 
could see nothing but evil in it. It would be a great dis- 
appointment to Mr. John Knightley, consequently to Isabella. 
A real injury to the children — a most mortifying change, and 
material loss to them all — a very great deduction from her 
father's daily comfort — and, as to herself, she could not at all 
endure the idea of Jane Fairfax at Donwell Abbey. A Mrs. 
Knightley for them all to give way to ! No — Mr. Knightley 
must never marry. Little Henry must remain the heir of 
Donwell. 

Presently Mr. Knightley looked back, and came and sat 
down by her. They talked at first only of the performance. 
His admiration was certainly very warm ; yet she thought, but 
for Mrs. Weston, it would not have struck her. As a sort of 
touchstone, however, she began to speak of his kindness in 
conveying the aunt and niece ; and though his answer was in 
the spirit of cutting the matter short, she believed it to indicate 
only his disinclination to dwell on any kindness of his own. 

' I often feel concerned,' said she, ' that I dare not make 
our carriage more useful on such occasions. It is not that I 
am without the wish ; but you know how impossible my father 
would deem it that James should put to for such a purpose.' 

* Quite out of the question, quite out of the question,' he 
replied ; ' but you must often wish it, I am sure.' And he 
smiled with such seeming pleasure at the conviction that she 
must proceed another step. 

20I 



EMMA 

* This present from the Campbells,' said she — ' this piano- 
forte is very kindly given.' 

*Yes,' he replied, and without the smallest apparent em- 
barrassment. * But they would have done better had they 
given her notice of it. Surprises are foolish things. The 
pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often con- 
siderable. I should have expected better judgment in Colonel 
Campbell.' 

From that moment Emma could have taken her oath that 
Mr. Knightley had had no concern in giving the instrument. 
But whether he were entirely free from peculiar attachment — 
whether there were no actual preference — remained a little 
longer doubtful. Towards the end of Jane's second song, her 
voice grew thick. 

' That will do,' said he, when it was finished, thinking 
aloud ; ' you have sung quite enough for one evening ; now be 
quiet.' 

Another song, however, was soon begged for. ' One 
more ; — they would not fatigue Miss Fairfax on any account, 
and would only ask for one more.' And Frank Churchill was 
heard to say, ' I think you could manage this without effort ; 
the first part is so very trifling. The strength of the song falls 
on the second.' 

Mr. Knightley grew angry. 

' That fellow,' said he indignantly, ' thinks of nothing but 
showing off his own voice. ' This must not be.' And touch- 
ing Miss Bates, who at that moment passed near, — 'Miss 
Bates, are you mad, to let your niece sing herself hoarse in 
this manner ? Go and interfere. They have no mercy on her.' 

Miss Bates, in her real anxiety for Jane, could hardly stay 
even to be grateful, before she stepped forward and put an end 
to all further singing. Here ceased the concert part of the 
evening, for Miss Woodhouse and Miss Fairfax were the only 
young lady performers ; but soon (within five minutes) the 
proposal of dancing — originating nobody exactly knew where 
— was so effectually promoted by Mr. and Mrs. Cole that 
everything was rapidly clearing away, to give proper space. 
Mrs. "Weston, capital in her country dances, was seated, and 
beginning an irresistible waltz ; and Frank Churchill, coming up 
with most becoming gallantry to Emma, had secured her hand, 
and led her up to the top. 

202 




Had secured her hand. 



EMMA 

While waiting till the other young people could pair them- 
selves ofif, Emma found time, in spite of the compliments she 
was receiving on her voice and her taste, to look about, and 
see what became of Mr. Knightley. This would be a trial. 
He was no dancer in general. If he were to be very alert in 
engaging Jane Fairfax now, it might augur something. There 
was no immediate appearance. No ; he was talking to Mrs. 
Cole — he was looking on unconcerned ; Jane was asked by 
somebody else, and he was still talking to Mrs. Cole. 

Emma had no longer an alarm for Henry ; his interest was 
yet safe ; and she led off the dance with genuine spirit and 
enjoyment. Not more than five couple could be mustered ; 
but the rarity and the suddenness of it made it very delightful, 
and she found herself well matched in a partner. They were 
a couple worth looking at. 

Two dances, unfortunately, were all that could be allowed. 
It was growing late, and Miss Bates became anxious to get 
home, on her mother's account. After some attempts, there- 
fore, to be permitted to begin again, they were obliged to thank 
Mrs. Weston, look sorrowful, and have done. 

' Perhaps it is as well,' said Frank Churchill, as he attended 
Emma to her carriage. ' I must have asked Miss Fairfax, 
and her languid dancing would not have agreed with me, after 
yours.' 



CHAPTER XXVII 

Emma did not repent her condescension in going to the Coles. 
The visit afforded her many pleasant recollections the next 
day ; and all that she might be supposed to have lost on the 
side of dignified seclusion must be amply repaid in the splendour 
of popularity. She must have delighted the Coles — worthy 
people, who deserved to be made happy ! — and left a name 
behind her that would not soon die away. 

Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common ; and 
there were two points on which she was not quite easy. She 
doubted whether she had not transgressed the duty of woman 
by woman, in betraying her suspicions of Jane Fairfax's 
feelings to Frank Churchill. It was hardly right ; but it had 

204 



EMMA 

been so strong an idea that] it would escape her, and his sub- 
mission to all that she told was a compliment to her penetration 
which made it difficult for her to be quite certain that she 
ought to have held her tongue. 

The other circumstance of regret related also to Jane Fairfax, 
and there she had no doubt. She did unfeignedly and un- 
equivocally regret the inferiority of her own playing and sing- 
ing. She did most heartily grieve over the idleness of her 
childhood, and sat down and practised vigorously an hour and 
a half. 

She was then interrupted by Harriet's coming in ; and if 
Harriet's praise could have satisfied her, she might soon have 
been comforted. 

' Oh, if I could but play as well as you and Miss Fairfax ! ' 

* Don't class us together, Harriet. My playing is no more 
like hers than a lamp is like sunshine.' 

' Oh dear, I think you play the best of the two. I think 
you play quite as well as she does. I am sure I had much 
rather hear you. Everybody last night said how well you 
played.' 

'Those who knew anything about it must have felt the 
difference. The truth is, Harriet, that my playing is just good 
enough to be praised, but Jane Fairfax's is much beyond it.' 

' Well, I always shall think that you play quite as well as 
she does, or that if there is any difference nobody would ever 
find it out. Mr. Cole said how much taste you had ; and Mr. 
Frank Churchill talked a great deal about your taste ; and that 
he valued taste much more than execution.' 

' Ah, but Jane Fairfax has them both, Harriet.' 

' Are you sure ? I saw she had execution, but I did not 
know she had any taste. Nobody talked about it ; and I hate 
Italian singing ; there is no understanding a word of it. 
Besides, if she does play so very well, you know, it is no more 
than she is obliged to do, because she will have to teach. 
The Coxes were wondering last night whether she would get 
into any great family. How did you think the Coxes looked ? ' 

* Just as they always do, — very vulgar.' 

' They told me something,' said Harriet, rather hesitatingly, 
' but it is nothing of any consequence.' 

Emma was obliged to ask what they had told her, though 
fearful of its producing Mr. Elton. 

205 



EMMA 

'They told me that Mr. Martin dined with them last 
Saturday.' 

'Oh!' 

' He came to their father upon some business, and he asked 
him to stay dinner.' 

'Oh!' 

' They talked a great deal about him, especially Anne Cox. 
I do, not know what she meant, but she asked me if I thought 
I should go and stay there again next summer.' 

' She meant to be impertinently curious, just as such an 
Anne Cox should be.' 

' She said he was very agreeable the day he dined there. 
He sat by her at dinner. Miss Nash thinks either of the 
Coxes would be very glad to marry him.' 

' Very likely ; I think they are, without exception, the most 
vulgar girls in Highbury.' 

Harriet had business at Ford's. Emma thought it most 
prudent to go with her. Another accidental meeting with the 
Martins was possible, and, in her present state, would be 
dangerous. 

Harriet, tempted by everything, and swayed by half a 
word, was always very long at a purchase ; and while she was 
still hanging over muslins, and changing her mind, Emma 
went to the door for amusement. Much could not be hoped 
from the traffic of even the busiest part of Highbury ; — Mr. 
Perry walking hastily by ; Mr. William Cox letting himself in 
at the office door ; Mr. Cole's carriage-horses returning from 
exercise ; or a stray letter-boy on an obstinate mule, — were the 
liveliest objects she could presume to expect ; and when her 
eyes fell only on the butcher with his tray, a tidy old woman 
travelling homewards from shop with her full basket, two curs 
quarrelling over a dirty bone, and a string of dawdling 
children round the baker's little bow-window eyeing the ginger- 
bread, she knew she had no reason to complain, and was 
amused enough : quite enough still to stand at the door. A 
mind lively and at ease can do with seeing nothing, and can 
see nothing that does not answer. 

She looked down the Randalls road. The scene enlarged ; 
two persons appeared; Mrs. Weston and her son-in-law. 
They were walking into Highbury — to Hartfield of course ; 
they were stopping, however, in the first place at Mrs. Bates's, 

206 



EMMA 

whose house was a little nearer Randalls than Ford's, and 
had all but knocked when Emma caught their eye. Immedi- 
ately they crossed the road and came forward to her ; and the 
agreeableness of yesterday's engagement seemed to give fresh 
pleasure to the present meeting. Mrs. Weston informed her 
that she was going to call on the Bateses, in order to hear the 
new instrument. 

' For my companion tells me,' said she, < that I absolutely 
promised Miss Bates last night that I would come this morn- 
ing. I was not aware of it myself. I did not know that I 
had fixed a day ; but as he says I did, I am going now.' 

' And while Mrs. Weston pays her visit, I may be allowed, 
I hope,' said Frank Churchill, 'to join your party and wait 
for her at Hartfield, if you are going home.' 

Mrs. Weston was disappointed. 

' I thought you meant to go with me. They would be very 
much pleased.' 

' Me ! I should be quite in the way. But, perhaps, I may 
be equally in the way here. Miss Woodhouse looks as if she 
did not want me. My aunt always sends me off when she is 
shopping. She says I fidget her to death ; and Miss Wood- 
house looks as if she could almost say the same. What am 
I to do ? ' 

' I am here on no business of my own,' said Emma, ' I am 
only waiting for my friend. She will probably have soon 
done, and then we shall go home. But you had better go 
with Mrs. Weston and hear the instrument.' 

'Well, if you advise it. But (with a smile) if Colonel 
Campbell should have employed a careless friend, and if it 
should prove to have an indifferent tone, what shall I say ? I 
shall be no support to Mrs. Weston. She might do very well 
by herself. A disagreeable truth would be palatable through 
her lips, but I am the wretchedest being in the world at a civil 
falsehood.' 

* I do not believe any such thing,' replied Emma ; ' I am 
persuaded that you can be as insincere as your neighbours, 
when it is necessary ; but there is no reason to suppose the 
instrument is indifferent. Quite otherwise, indeed, if I under- 
stood Miss Fairfax's opinion last night.' 

* Do come with me,' said Mrs. Weston, ' if it be not very 
disagreeable to you. It need not detain us long. We will 

207 



EMMA 

go to Hartfield afterwards. We will follow them to Hartfield, 
I really wish you to call with me ; it will be felt so great an 
attention — and I always thought you meant it.' 

He could say no more ; and, with the hope of Hartfield to 
reward him, returned with Mrs. Weston to Mrs. Bates's door. 
Emma watched them in, and then joined Harriet at the 
interesting counter, trying, with all the force of her own mind, 
to convince her that, if she wanted plain muslin, it was of no 
use to look at figured ; and that a blue riband, be it ever so 
beautiful, would still never match her yellow pattern. At last 
it was all settled, even to the destination of the parcel. 

' Should I send it to Mrs. Goddard's, ma'am ? ' asked Mrs. 
Ford. — ' Yes — no — yes, to Mrs. Goddard's. Only my pattern 
gown is at Hartfield. No, you shall send it to Hartfield, if 
you please. But then, Mrs. Goddard will want to see it. 
And I could take the pattern gown home any day. But I 
shall want the riband directly ; so it had better go to Hartfield 
— at least the riband. You could make it into two parcels, 
Mrs. Ford, could not you ? ' 

' It is not worth while, Harriet, to give Mrs. Ford the 
trouble of two parcels.' 

' No more it is.' 

' No trouble in the world, ma'am,' said the obliging Mrs. 
Ford. 

' Oh, but indeed I would much rather have it only in one. 
Then, if you please, you shall send it all to Mrs. Goddard's 
— I do not know — no, I think. Miss Woodhouse, I may just 
as well have it sent to Hartfield, and take it home with me at 
night. What do you advise ? ' 

' That you do not give another half second to the subject. 
To Hartfield, if you please, Mrs. Ford.' 

' Ay, that will be much best,' said Harriet, quite satisfied ; 
* I should not at all like to have it sent to Mrs. Goddard's.' 

Voices approached the shop, or rather, one voice and two 
ladies ; Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates met them at the door. 

' My dear Miss Woodhouse,' said the latter, ' I am just run 
across to entreat the favour of you to come and sit down with 
us a little while, and give us your opinion of our new instru- 
ment — you and Miss Smith. How do you do. Miss Smith ? 
— Very well, I thank you. — And I begged Mrs. Weston to 
come with me, that I might be sure of succeeding.' 

208 



EMMA 

* I hope Mrs. Bates and Miss Fairfax are ' 

'Very well, I am much obliged to you. My mother is 
delightfully well ; and Jane caught no cold last night. How 
is Mr. Woodhouse ? I am so glad to hear such a good ac- 
count. Mrs. Weston told me you were here. — Oh, then, 
said I, I must run across ; I am sure Miss Woodhouse will 
allow me just to run across and entreat her to come in ; my 
mother will be so very happy to see her ; and now we are 
such a nice party, she cannot refuse. "Ay, pray do," said 
Mr. Frank Churchill ; " Miss Woodhouse's opinion of the in- 
strument will be worth having." — But, said I, I shall be more 
sure of succeeding if one of you will go with me. — " Oh," 
said he, "wait half a minute, till I have finished my job ;" 
for, would you believe it, Miss Woodhouse, there he is, in 
the most obliging manner in the world, fastening in the rivet 
of my mother's spectacles. The rivet came out, you know, 
this morning ; so very obliging ! — For my mother had no 
use of her spectacles — could not put them on. And, by the 
bye, everybody ought to have two pair of spectacles ; they 
should indeed. Jane said so. I meant to take them over to 
John Saunders the first thing I did, but something or other 
hindered me all the morning ; first one thing, then another, 
there is no saying what, you know. At one time, Patty 
came to say she thought the kitchen chimney wanted sweep- 
ing. Oh, said I, Patty, do not come with your bad news to 
me. Here is the rivet of your mistress's spectacles out. 
Then the baked apples came home ; Mrs. Wallis sent them 
by her boy ; they are extremely civil and obliging to us, the 
Wallises, always. I have heard some people say that Mrs. 
Wallis can be uncivil and give a very rude answer ; but we 
have never known anything but the greatest attention from 
them. And it cannot be for the value of our custom now, for 
what is our consumption of bread, you know ? only three of 
us. Besides, dear Jane, at present, — and she really eats 
nothing, — makes such a shocking breakfast, you would be 
quite frightened if you saw it. I dare not let my mother 
know how little she eats ; so I say one thing, and then I say 
another, and it passes ofif. But about the middle of the day 
she gets hungry, and there is nothing she likes so well as 
these baked apples, and they are extremely wholesome ; for 
I took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr. Perry; 
P 209 



EMMA 

I happened to meet him in the street. Not that I had any 
doubt before. I have so often heard Mr, Woodhouse re- 
commend a baked apple. I beHeve it is the only way that 
Mr. Woodhouse thinks the fruit thoroughly wholesome. We 
have apple -dumplings, however, very often. Patty makes an 
excellent apple -dumpling. Well, Mrs. Weston, you have 
prevailed, I hope, and these ladies will oblige us.' 

Emma would be ' very happy to wait on Mrs. Bates, etc.,' 
and they did at last move out of the shop, with no further 
delay from Miss Bates than — 

' How do you do, Mrs. Ford ? I beg your pardon ; I did 
not see you before. I hear you have a charming collection 
of new ribands from town. Jane came back delighted yes- 
terday. Thank ye, the gloves do very well — only a little too 
large about the wrist ; but Jane is taking them in.' 

'What was I talking of.^' said she, beginning again when 
they were all in the street. 

Emma wondered on what, of all the medley, she would fix. 

' I declare I cannot recollect what I was talking of. Oh, 
my mother's spectacles. So very obliging of Mr. Frank 
Churchill ! " Oh ! " said he, " I do think I can fasten the 
rivet ; I like a job of this kind excessively." Which, you 

know, showed him to be so very Indeed I must say 

that, much as I had heard of him before, and much as I had 
expected, he very far exceeds anything I do con- 
gratulate you, Mrs. Weston, most warmly. He seems every- 
thing the fondest parent could " Oh ! " said he, " I can 

fasten the rivet. I like a job of that sort excessively." I 
never shall forget his manner. And when I brought out the 
baked apples from the closet, and hoped our friends would 
be so very obliging as to take some, " Oh ! " said he directly, 
" there is nothing in the way of fruit half so good, and these 
are the finest-looking home-baked apples I ever saw in my 

life." That, you know, was so very And I am sure, by 

his manner, it was no compliment. Indeed they are very 
delightful apples, and Mrs. Wallis does them full justice, 
only we do not have them baked more than twice, and Mr. 
Woodhouse made us promise to have them done three times ; 
but Miss Woodhouse will be so good as not to mention it. 
The apples themselves are the very finest sort for baking, 
beyond a doubt ; all from Donwell — some of Mr. Knightley's 

210 



EMMA 

most liberal supply. He sends us a sack every year ; and 
certainly there never was such a keeping apple anywhere as 
one of his trees — I believe there is two of them. My mother 
says the orchard was always famous in her younger days. 
But I was really quite shocked the other day ; for Mr. 
Knightley called one morning, and Jane was eating these 
apples, and we talked about them, and said how much she 
enjoyed them, and he asked whether we were not got to the 
end of our stock. " I am sure you must be," said he, " and 
I will send you another supply ; for I have a great many 
more than I can ever use. William Larkins let me keep a 
larger quantity than usual this year. I will send you some 
more, before they get good for nothing." So I begged he 
would not — for really as to ours being gone, I could not 
absolutely say that we had a great many left — it was but half 
a dozen indeed ; but they should be all kept for Jane ; and I 
could not at all bear that he should be sending us more, so 
liberal as he had been already ; and Jane said the same. 
And when he was gone, she almost quarrelled with me : no, 
I should not say quarrelled, for we never had a quarrel in 
our lives ; but she was quite distressed that I had owned the 
apples were so nearly gone : she wished I had made him 
believe we had a great many left. Oh, said I, my dear, I did 
say as much as I could. However, the very same evening 
William Larkins came over with a large basket of apples, the 
same sort of apples, a bushel at least, and I was very much 
obliged, and went down and spoke to William Larkins, and 
said everything, as you may suppose. William Larkins is 
such an old acquaintance ! I am always glad to se^ him. 
But, however, I found afterwards from Patty that William 
said it was all the apples of that sort his master had ; he had 
brought them all — and now his master had not one left 
to bake or boil. William did not seem to mind it himself, 
he was so pleased to think his master had sold so many ; 
for William, you know, thinks more of his master's profit 
than anything ; but Mrs. Hodges, he said, was quite dis- 
pleased at their being all sent away. She could not bear 
that her master should not be able to have another apple- 
tart this spring. He told Patty this, but bid her not mind it, 
and be sure not to say anything to us about it, for Mrs. 
Hodges would be cross sometimes, and as long as so many 

211 



EMMA 

sacks were sold, it did not signify who ate the remainder. 
And so Patty told me, and I was excessively shocked, indeed ! 
I would not have Mr. Knightley know anything about it for 

the world ! He would be so very I wanted to keep it 

from Jane's knowledge ; but, unluckily, I had mentioned it 
before I was aware.' 

Miss Bates had just done as Patty opened the door ; and 
her visitors walked upstairs without having any regular narra- 
tion to attend to, pursued only by the sounds of her desultory 
goodwill. 

' Pray take care, Mrs. Weston, there is a step at the turn- 
ing. Pray take care, Miss Woodhouse, ours is rather a dark 
staircase — rather darker and narrower than one could wish. 
Miss Smith, pray take care. Miss Woodhouse, I am quite 
concerned, I am sure you hit your foot. Miss Smith, the step 
at the turning.' 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

The appearance of the little sitting-room as they entered was 
tranquillity itself; Mrs. Bates, deprived of her usual employ- 
ment, slumbering on one side of the fire ; Frank Churchill, at 
a table near her, most deeply occupied about her spectacles ; 
and Jane Fairfax, standing with her back to them, intent on 
her pianoforte. 

Busy as he was, however, the young man was yet able to 
show a most happy countenance on seeing Emma again. 

' This is a pleasure,' said he, in rather a low voice, ' coming 
at least ten minutes earlier than I had calculated. You find 
me trying to be useful ; tell me if you think I shall succeed.' 

' What ! ' said Mrs. Weston, ' have not you finished it yet ? 
you would not earn a very good livelihood as a working silver- 
smith at this rate.' 

' I have not been working uninterruptedly,' he replied ; ' I 
have been assisting Miss Fairfax in trying to make her 
instrument stand steadily ; it was not quite firm ; an uneven- 
ness in the floor, I believe. You see we have been wedg- 
ing one leg with paper. This was very kind of you to be 

212 




Deeply occupied about Jier spectacles. 



EMMA 

persuaded to come. I was almost afraid you would be 
hurrying home.' 

He contrived that she should be seated by him ; and was 
sufficiently employed in looking out the best -baked apple 
for her, and trying to make her help or advise him in his 
work, till Jane Fairfax was quite ready to sit down to the 
pianoforte again. That she was not immediately ready, 
Emma did suspect to arise from the state of her nerves ; she 
had not yet possessed the instrument long enough to touch 
it without emotion ; she must reason herself into the power 
of performance ; and Emma could not but pity such feelings, 
whatever their origin, and could not but resolve never to expose 
them to her neighbour again. 

At last Jane began, and though the first bars were feebly 
given, the powers of the instrument were gradually done full 
justice to. Mrs. Weston had been delighted before, and was 
delighted again ; Emma joined her in all her praise ; and the 
pianoforte, with every proper discrimination, was pronounced 
to be altogether of the highest promise. 

'Whoever Colonel Campbell might employ,' said Frank 
Churchill, with a smile at Emma, ' the person has not chosen 
ill. I heard a good deal of Colonel Campbell's taste at 
Weymouth ; and the softness of the upper notes I am sure 
is exactly what he and all that party would particularly prize. 
I daresay. Miss Fairfax, that he either gave his friend very 
minute directions, or wrote to Broadwood himself. Do not 
you think so ? ' 

Jane did not look round. She was not obliged to hear. 
Mrs. Weston had been speaking to her at the same moment. 

' It is not fair,' said Emma, in a whisper ; ' mine was a 
random guess. Do not distress her.' 

He shook his head with a smile, and looked as if he had 
very little doubt and very little mercy. Soon afterwards he 
began again — 

' How much your friends in Ireland must be enjoying your 
pleasure on this occasion. Miss Fairfax. I daresay they often 
think of you, and wonder which will be the day, the precise 
day of the instrument's coming to hand. Do you imagine 
Colonel Campbell knows the business to be going forward just 
at this time ? Do you imagine it to be the consequence of an 
immediate commission from him, or that he may have sent 

214 



EMMA 

only a general direction, an order indefinite as to time, to 
depend upon contingencies and conveniences ? ' 

He paused. She could not but hear ; she could not avoid 
answering — 

' Till I have a letter from Colonel Campbell,' said she, in a 
voice of forced calmness, ' I can imagine nothing with any 
confidence. It must be all conjecture.' 

' Conjecture ! ay, sometimes one conjectures right, and 
sometimes one conjectures wrong. I wish I could conjecture 
how soon I shall make this rivet quite firm. What nonsense 
one talks. Miss Woodhouse, when hard at work, if one talks at 
all ; your real workmen, I suppose, hold their tongues ; but 
we, gentlemen labourers, if we get hold of a word — Miss Fair- 
fax said something about conjecturing. There, it is done. I 
have the pleasure, madam (to Mrs. Bates), of restoring your 
spectacles, healed for the present.' 

He was very warmly thanked both by mother and daughter : 
to escape a little from the latter, he went to the pianoforte, 
and begged Miss Fairfax, who was still sitting at it, to play 
something more. 

' If you are very kind,' said he, ' it will be one of the waltzes 
we danced last night ; let me live them over again. You did 
not enjoy them as I did ; you appeared tired the whole time. 
I believe you were glad we danced no longer ; but I would 
have given worlds — all the worlds one ever has to give — for 
another half hour.' 

She played. 

' What felicity it is to hear a tune again which has made one 
happy ! If I mistake not, that was danced at Weymouth.' 

She looked up at him for a moment, coloured deeply, and 
played something else. He took some music from a chair 
near the pianoforte, and turning to Emma, said — 

' Here is something quite new to me. Do you know it t 
Cramer. And here are a new set of Irish melodies. That, 
from such a quarter, one might expect. This was all sent 
with the instrument. Very thoughtful of Colonel Campbell, 
was not it .? He knew Miss Fairfax could have no music here. 
I honour that part of the attention particularly ; it shows it 
to have been so thoroughly from the heart. Nothing hastily 
done ; nothing incomplete. True affection only could have 
prompted it.' 

215 



EMMA 

Emma wished he would be less pointed, yet could not help 
being amused ; and when, on glancing her eye towards Jane 
Fairfax, she caught the remains of a smile, — when she saw 
that, with all the deep blush of consciousness, there had been 
a smile of secret delight, — she had less scruple in the amuse- 
ment, and much less compunction with respect to her. This 
amiable, upright, perfect Jane Fairfax was apparently cherish- 
ing very reprehensible feelings. 

He brought all the music to her, and they looked it over 
together. Emma took the opportunity of whispering — 

* You speak too plain. She must understand you.' 

* I hope she does. I would have her understand me. I 
am not in the least ashamed of my meaning.' 

'But, really, I am half ashamed, and wish I had never 
taken up the idea.' 

' I am very glad you did, and that you communicated it to 
me. I have now a key to all her odd looks and ways. Leave 
shame to her. If she does wrong, she ought to feel it.' 

* She is not entirely without it, I think.' 

* I do not see much sign of it. She is playing Robin Adair 
at this moment — his favourite.' 

Shortly afterwards Miss Bates, passing near the window, 
descried Mr. Knightley on horseback not far off. 

' Mr. Knightley, I declare ! I must speak to him, if 
possible, just to thank him. I will not open the window here ; 
it will give you all cold ; but I can go into my mother's room, 
you know. I daresay he will come in when he knows who is 
here. Quite delightful to have you all meet so ! Our little 
room so honoured ! ' 

She was in the adjoining chamber while she still spoke, 
and, opening the casement there, immediately called Mr. 
Knightle>''s attention, and every syllable of their conversation 
was as distinctly heard by the others as if it had passed within 
the same apartment. 

' How d'ye do ? How d'ye do ? Very well, I thank you. 
So obliged to you for the carriage last night. We were just 
in time ; my mother just ready for us. Pray com i in ; do 
come in. You will find some friends here.' 

So began Miss Bates ; and Mr. Knightley seemed deter- 
mined to be heard in his turn, for most resolutely and com- 
mandingly did he say — 

216 



EMMA 

* How is your niece, Miss Bates ? I want to inquire after 
you all, but particularly your niece. How is Miss Fairfax? 
I hope she caught no cold last night. How is she to-day? 
Tell me how Miss Fairfax is.' 

And Miss Bates was obliged to give a direct answer before 
he would hear her in anything else. The listeners were 
amused ; and Mrs. Weston gave Emma a look of particular 
meaning. But Emma still shook her head in steady scepticism. 

' So obliged to you ! — so very much obliged to you for the 
carriage,' resumed Miss Bates. 

He cut her short with — 

* I am going to Kingston. Can I do anything for you ? ' 

' Oh dear, Kingston — are you ? Mrs. Cole was saying the 
other day she wanted something from Kingston.' 

' Mrs. Cole has servants to send ; can I do anything for 
you f ' 

' No, I thank you. But do come in. Who do you think 
is here ? Miss Woodhouse and Miss Smith ; so kind as to 
call to hear the new pianoforte. Do put up your horse at the 
Crown, and come in.' 

' Well,' said he, in a deliberating manner, ' for five minutes, 
perhaps.' 

' And here is Mrs. Weston and Mr. Frank Churchill too ! 
Quite delightful ; so many friends ! ' 

* No, not now, I thank you. I could not stay two minutes. 
I must get on to Kingston as fast as I can.' 

'Oh, do come in. They will be so very happy to see 
you.' 

' No, no ; your room is full enough. I will call another 
day, and hear the pianoforte.' 

' Well, I am so sorry ! Oh, Mr. Knightley, what a delight- 
ful party last night ! how extremely pleasant ! Did you ever 
see such dancing ? Was not it delightful ? Miss Woodhouse 
and Mr. Frank Churchill ; I never saw anything equal to it.' 

* Oh, very delightful, indeed : I can say nothing less, for I 
suppose Miss Woodhouse and Mr. Frank Churchill are hearing 
everything that passes. And (raising his voice still more) I 
do not see why Miss Fairfax should not be mentioned too. I 
think Miss Fairfax dances very well ; and Mrs. Weston is the 
very best country-dance player, without exception, in England. 
Now, if your friends have any gratitude, they will say some- 

217 




' Oh, Mr. Knightley, one moment more. 



i 



EMMA 

thing pretty loud about you and me in return ; but I cannot 
stay to hear it.' 

* Oh, Mr. Knightley, one moment more ; something of con- 
sequence — so shocked ! Jane and I are both so shocked 
about the apples ! ' 

' What is the matter now ? ' 

' To think of your sending us all your store apples. You 
said you had a great many, and now you have not one left. 
We really are so shocked ! Mrs. Hodges may well be angry. 
William Larkins mentioned it here. You should not have 
done it, indeed you should not. Ah, he is off. He never can 
bear to be thanked. But I thought he would have stayed 
now, and it would have been a pity not to have mentioned 

Well (returning into the room), I have not been able to 

succeed. Mr. Knightley cannot stop. He is going to King- 
ston. He asked me if he could do anything ' 

' Yes,' said Jane ; * we heard his kind offers ; we heard 
everything.' 

' Oh yes, my dear, I daresay you might ; because, you 
know, the door was open, and the window was open, and Mr. 
Knightley spoke loud. You must have heard everything to be 
sure. " Can I do anything for you at Kingston ? " said he ; 

so I just mentioned Oh, Miss Woodhouse, must you be 

going ? You seem but just come ; so very obliging of you.' 

Emma found it really time to be at home ; the visit had 
already lasted long ; and, on examining watches, so much of 
the morning was perceived to be gone that Mrs. Weston and 
her companion, taking leave also, could allow themselves only 
to walk with the two young ladies to Hartfield gates, before 
they set off for Randalls. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances 
have been known of young people passing many, many months 
successively, without being at any ball of any description, and 
no material injury accrue either to body or mind ; — but when 
a beginning is made — when the felicities of rapid motion have 

219 



EMMA 

once been, though slightly, felt — it must be a very heavy set 
that does not ask for more. 

Frank Churchill had danced once at Highbury, and longed 
to dance again ; and the last half-hour of an evening which 
Mr. Woodhouse was persuaded to spend with his daughter at 
Randalls was passed by the two young people in schemes on 
the subject. Frank's was the first idea, and his the greatest 
zeal in pursuing it ; for the lady was the best judge of the 
difficulties, and the most solicitous for accommodation and 
appearance. But still she had inclination enough for showing 
people again how delightfully Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss 
Woodhouse danced — for doing that in which she need not 
blush to compare herself with Jane Fairfax — and even for 
simple dancing itself, without any of the wicked aids of vanity 
— to assist him first in pacing out the room they were in to 
see what it could be made to hold — and then in taking the 
dimensions of the other parlour, in the hope of discovering, in 
spite of all that Mr. Weston could say of their exactly equal 
size, that it was a Uttle the largest. 

His first proposition and request, that the dance begun at 
Mr. Cole's should be finished there, — that the same party 
should be collected, and the same musician engaged, — met 
with the readiest acquiescence. Mr. Weston entered into the 
idea with thorough enjoyment, and Mrs. Weston most willingly 
undertook to play as long as they could wish to dance ; and 
the interesting employment had followed, of reckoning up 
exactly who there would be, and portioning out the indispen- 
sable division of space to every couple. 

< You and Miss Smith, and Miss Fairfax, will be three, and 
the two Miss Coxes five,' had been repeated many times over. 
* And there will be the two Gilberts, young Cox, my father, 
and myself, besides Mr. Knightley. Yes, that will be quite 
enough for pleasure. You and Miss Smith, and Miss Fair- 
fax, will be three, and the two Miss Coxes five ; and for five 
couple there will be plenty of room.' 

But soon it came to be on one side — 

' But will there be good room for five couple ? — I really do 
not think there will.' 

On another — 

* And after all, five couple are not enough to make it worth 
while to stand up. Five couple are nothing, when one thinks 

220 



EMMA 

seriously about it. It will not do to invite five couple. It 
can be allowable only as the thought of the moment.' 

Somebody said that Miss Gilbert was expected at her 
brother's, and must be invited with the rest. Somebody else 
believed Mrs. Gilbert would have danced the other evening, 
if she had been asked. A word was put in for a second 
young Cox ; and at last, Mr. Weston naming one family of 
cousins who must be included, and another of very old ac- 
quaintance who could not be left out, it became a certainty 
that the five couple would be at least ten, and a very 
interesting speculation in what possible manner they could 
be disposed of. 

The doors of the two rooms were just opposite each other. 
' Might not they use both rooms, and dance across the pas- 
sage ? ' It seemed the best scheme ; and yet it was not so 
good but that many of them wanted a better. Emma said 
it would be awkward ; Mrs. Weston was in distress about the 
supper : and Mr. Woodhouse opposed it earnestly on the 
score of health. It made him so very unhappy, indeed, that 
it could not be persevered in. 

' Oh no,' said he ; 'it would be the extreme of imprudence. 
I could not bear it for Emma ! — Emma is not strong. She 
would catch a dreadful cold. So would poor little Harriet. 
So you would all. Mrs. Weston, you would be quite laid up ; 
do not let them talk of such a wild thing ; pray do not let 
them talk of it. That young man (speaking lower) is very 
thoughtless. Do not tell his father, but that young man 
is not quite the thing. He has been opening the doors very 
often this evening, and keeping them open very inconsider- 
ately. He does not think of the draught. I do not mean to 
set you against him, but indeed he is not quite the thing.' 

Mrs. Weston was sorry for such a charge. She knew the 
importance of it, and said everything in her power to do it 
away. Every door was now closed, the passage plan given 
up, and the first scheme, of dancing only in the room they 
were in, resorted to again ; and with such goodwill on Frank 
Churchill's part, that the space which a quarter of an hour 
before had been deemed barely sufficient for five couple was 
now endeavoured to be made out quite enough for ten. 

* We were too magnificent,' said he. ' We allowed un- 
necessary room. Ten couple may stand here very well.' 

221 



EMMA 

Emma demurred. ' It would be a crowd — a sad crowd ; 
and what could be worse than dancing without space to 
turn in ? ' 

'Very true,' he gravely replied; 'it was very bad.' But 
still he went on measuring, and still he ended with — 

' I think there will be very tolerable room for ten couple.' 

' No, no,' said she, ' you are quite unreasonable. It would 
be dreadful to be standing so close. Nothing can be further 
from pleasure than to be dancing in a crowd — and a crowd 
in a little room.' 

' There is no denying it,' he replied. ' I agree with you 
exactly. A crowd in a little room — Miss Woodhouse, you 
have the art of giving pictures in a few words. Exquisite, 
quite exquisite ! Still, however, having proceeded so far, one 
is unwilling to give the matter up. It would be a disap- 
pointment to my father — and altogether — I do not know 
that — I am rather of opinion that ten couple might stand 
here very well.' 

Emma perceived that the nature of his gallantry was a 
little self-willed, and that he would rather oppose than lose 
the pleasure of dancing with her ; but she took the compli- 
ment, and forgave the rest. Had she intended ever to marry 
him, it might have been worth while to pause and consider, 
and try to understand the value of his preference, and the 
character of his temper ; but for all the purposes of their 
acquaintance he was quite amiable enough. 

Before the middle of the next day he was at Hartfield ; 
and he entered the room with such an agreeable smile as 
certified the continuance of the scheme. It soon appeared 
that he came to announce an improvement. 

' Well, Miss Woodhouse,' he almost immediately began, 
'your inclination for dancing has not been quite frightened 
away, I hope, by the terrors of my father's little rooms. I 
bring a new proposal on the subject — a thought of my 
father's, which waits only your approbation to be acted 
upon. May I hope for the honour of your hand for the 
two first dances of this Httle projected ball, to be given, not 
at Randalls, but at the Crown Inn ? ' 

' The Crown ! ' 

' Yes ; if you and Mr. Woodhouse see no objection, and 
I trust you cannot, my father hopes his friends will be so kind 

222 



EMMA 

as to visit him there. Better accommodations he can pro- 
mise them, and not a less grateful welcome than at Randalls. 
It is his own idea. Mrs. Weston sees no objection to it, 
provided you are satisfied. This is what we all feel. Oh, 
you were perfectly right ! Ten couple, in either of the Ran- 
dalls' rooms, would have been insufiferable — dreadful ! I felt 
how right you were the whole time, but was too anxious for 
securing anything to like to yield. Is not it a good exchange ? 
You consent — I hope you consent ? ' 

' It appears to me a plan that nobody can object to, if 
Mr. and Mrs. Weston do not. I think it admirable ; and as 

far as I can answer for myself, shall be most happy It 

seems the only improvement that could be. Papa, do you 
not think it an excellent improvement ? ' 

She was obliged to repeat and explain it, before it was fully 
comprehended ; and then, being quite new, further represen- 
tations were necessary to make it acceptable. 

' No ; he thought it very far from an improvement — a very 
bad plan — much worse than the other. A room at an inn 
was always damp and dangerous ; never properly aired, or 
fit to be inhabited. If they must dance, they had better 
dance at Randalls. He had never been in the room at the 
Crown in his life — did not know the people who kept it by 
sight. Oh no — a very bad plan. They would catch worse 
colds at the Crown than anywhere.' 

* I was going to observe, sir,' said Frank Churchill, ' that 
one of the great recommendations of this change would be 
the very little danger of anybody's catching cold — so much 
less danger at the Crown than at Randalls ! Mr. Perry 
might have reason to regret the alteration, but nobody else 
could.' 

' Sir,' said Mr. Woodhouse, rather warmly, ' you are very 
much mistaken if you suppose Mr. Perry to be that sort of 
character. Mr. Perry is extremely concerned when any of 
us are ill. But I do not understand how the room at the 
Crown can be safer for you than your father's house.' 

' From the very circumstance of its being larger, sir. We 
shall have no occasion to open the windows at all — not once 
the whole evening ; and it is that dreadful habit of opening 
the windows, letting in cold air upon heated bodies, which 
(as you well know, sir) does the mischief.' 

223 



EMMA 

' Open the windows ! but surely, Mr. Churchill, nobody 
would think of opening the windows at Randalls. Nobody 
could be so imprudent ! I never heard of such a thing. 
Dancing with open windows ! I am sure, neither your 
father, nor Mrs. Weston (poor Miss Taylor that was) would 
suffer it.' 

' Ah ! sir — but a thoughtless young person will sometimes 
step behind a window-curtain, and throw up a sash without 
its being suspected. I have often known it done myself.' 

' Have you, indeed, sir ? Bless me ! I never could have 
supposed it. But I live out of the world, and am often 
astonished at what I hear. However, this does make a 
difference ; and, perhaps, when we come to talk it over — but 
these sort of things require a good deal of consideration. 
One cannot resolve upon them in a hurry. If Mr. and Mrs. 
Weston will be so obliging as to call here one morning, we 
may talk it over, and see what can be done.' 

* But, unfortunately, sir, my time is so limited ' 

' Oh,' interrupted Emma, ' there will be plenty of time for 
talking everything over. There is no hurry at all. If it 
can be contrived to be at the Crown, papa, it will be very 
convenient for the horses. They will be so near their own 
stable.' 

' So they will, my dear. That is a great thing. Not that 
James ever complains ; but it is right to spare our horses 
when we can. If I could be sure of the rooms being 
thoroughly aired — but is Mrs. Stokes to be trusted ? I doubt 
it. I do not know her, even by sight.' 

' I can answer for everything of that nature, sir, because 
it will be under Mrs. Weston's care. Mrs. Weston under- 
takes to direct the whole.' 

' There, papa ! Now you must be satisfied — our own dear 
Mrs. Weston, who is carefulness itself. Do not you remember 
what Mr. Perry said, so many years ago, when I had the 
measles ? " If Mzss Taylor undertakes to wrap Miss Emma 
up, you need not have any fears, sir." How often have I 
heard you speak of it as such a compliment to her ! ' 

'Ay, very true. Mr. Perry did say so. I shall never 
forget it. Poor little Emma ! You were very bad with the 
measles ; that is, you would have been very bad but for 
Perry's great attention. He came four times a day for a week. 

224 



EMMA 

He said, from the first, it was a very good sort — which was 
our great comfort ; but the measles are a dreadful complaint. 
I hope whenever poor Isabella's little ones have the measles, 
she will send for Perry.' 

' My father and Mrs. Weston are at the Crown at this 
moment,' said Frank Churchill, ' examining the capabilities of 
the house. I left them there and came on to Hartfield, im- 
patient for your opinion, and hoping you might be persuaded 
to join them and give your advice on the spot, I was desired 
to say so from both. It would be the greatest pleasure to 
them if you could allow me to attend you there. They can 
do nothing satisfactorily without you.' 

Emma was most happy to be called to such a council ; 
and, her father engaging to think it all over while she was 
gone, the two young people set off together without delay for 
the Crown. There were Mr. and Mrs. Weston ; delighted to 
see her and receive her approbation, very busy and very happy 
in their different way ; she, in some little distress ; and he, 
finding everything perfect. 

' Emma,' said she, ' this paper is worse than I expected. 
Look ! in places you see it is dreadfully dirty, and the wainscot 
is more yellow and forlorn than anything one could have 
imagined.' 

' My dear, you are too particular,' said her husband. 
' WTiat does all that signify ? You will see nothing of it by 
candlelight. It will be as clean as Randalls by candlelight. 
We never see anything of it on our club-nights.' 

The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, 
' Men never know when things are dirty or not ; ' and the 
gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, 'Women will 
have their little nonsenses and needless cares.' 

One perplexity, however, arose, which the gentlemen did 
not disdain : it regarded a supper-room. At the time of the 
ballroom's being built, suppers had not been in question ; 
and a small cardroom adjoining was the only addition. 
What was to be done ? This cardroom would be wanted 
as a cardroom now ; or, if cards were conveniently voted un- 
necessary by their four selves, still was not it too small for 
any comfortable supper ? Another room of much better size 
might be secured for the purpose ; but it was at the other end 
of the house, and a long awkward passage must be gone 
Q 225 



EMMA 

through to get at it. This made a difficulty. Mrs. Weston 
was afraid of draughts for the young people in that passage ; 
and neither Emma nor the gentlemen could tolerate the 
prospect of being miserably crowded at supper. 

Mrs. Weston proposed having no regular supper : merely 
sandwiches, etc., set out in the little room ; but that was 
scouted as a wretched suggestion. A private dance, without 
sitting down to supper, was pronounced an infamous fraud 
upon the rights of men and women ; and Mrs. Weston must 
not speak of it again. She then took another line of ex- 
pediency, and looking into the doubtful room, observed — 

' I do not think it is so very small. We shall not be many, 
you know.' 

And Mr. Weston at the same time, walking briskly with 
long steps through the passage, was calling out — 

' You talk a great deal of the length of this passage, my 
dear. It is a mere nothing after all ; and not the least 
dVaught from the stairs.' 

' I wish,' said Mrs. Weston, * one could know which ar- 
rangement our guests in general would like best. To do 
what would be most generally pleasing must be our object — 
if one could but tell what that would be.' 

'Yes, very true,' cried Frank, 'very true. You want your 
neighbours' opinions. I do not wonder at you. If one could 
ascertain what the chief of them — the Coles, for instance. 
They are not far off. Shall I call upon them ? Or Miss 
Bates ? She is still nearer. And I do not know whether 
Miss Bates is not as likely to understand the inclinations of 
the rest of the people as anybody. I think we do want a 
larger council. Suppose I go and invite Miss Bates to join us ?' 

' Well — if you please,' said Mrs. Weston, rather hesitating, 
' if you think she will be of any use.' 

' You will get nothing to the purpose from Miss Bates,' 
said Emma. ' She will be all delight and gratitude, but she 
will tell you nothing. She will not even listen to your 
questions. I see no advantage in consulting Miss Bates.' 

* But she is so amusing, so extremely amusing ! I am very 
fond of hearing Miss Bates talk. And I need not bring the 
whole family, you know.' 

Here Mr. Weston joined them, and on hearing what was 
proposed, gave it his decided approbation. 

226 



EMMA 

* Ay, do, Frank. Go and fetch Miss Bates, and let us end 
the matter at once. She will enjoy the scheme, I am sure ; 
and I do not know a properer person for showing us how to 
do away difficulties. Fetch Miss Bates. We are growing a 
little too nice. She is a standing lesson of how to be happy. 
But fetch them both. Invite them both.' 

* Both, sir ! Can the old lady ? ' 

' The old lady ! No, the young lady, to be sure. I shall 
think you a great blockhead, Frank, if you bring the aunt 
without the niece.' 

* Oh ! I beg your pardon, sir. I did not immediately 
recollect. Undoubtedly, if you wish it, I will endeavour to 
persuade them both.' And away he ran. 

Long before he reappeared, attending the short, neat, 
brisk -moving aunt, and her elegant niece, Mrs. Weston, 
like a sweet-tempered woman and a good wife, had examined 
the passage again, and found the evils of it much less than 
she had supposed before — indeed very trifling; and here 
ended the difficulties of decision. All the rest, in speculation 
at least, was perfectly smooth. All the minor arrangements 
of table and chair, lights and music, tea and supper, made 
themselves ; or were left as mere trifles, to be settled at any 
time between Mrs. Weston and Mrs. Stokes. Everybody 
invited was certainly to come ; Frank had already written to 
Enscombe to propose staying a few days beyond his fortnight, 
which could not possibly be refused. And a deHghtful dance 
it was to be. 

Most cordially, when Miss Bates arrived, did she agree 
that it must. As a counsellor she was not wanted ; but as an 
approver (a much safer character) she was truly welcome. 
Her approbation, at once general and minute, warm and 
incessant, could not but please; and for another half- hour 
they were all walking to and fro between the different rooms, 
some suggesting, some attending, and all in happy enjoyment 
of the future. The party did not break up without Emma's 
being positively secured for the first two dances by the hero 
of the evening, nor without her overhearing Mr. Weston 
whisper to his wife, ' He has asked her, my dear. That's 
right. I knew he would ! ' 



227 



// 







He has asked her, wy dear. 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XXX 

One thing only was wanting to make the prospect of the 
ball completely satisfactory to Emma, — its being fixed for a 
day within the granted term of Frank Churchill's stay in 
Surrey ; for, in spite of Mr. Weston's confidence, she could 
not think it so very impossible that the Churchills might not 
allow their nephew to remain a day beyond his fortnight. 
But this was not judged feasible. The preparations must 
take their time, nothing could be properly ready till the third 
week were entered on, and for a few days they must be 
planning, proceeding, and hoping in uncertainty — at the risk 
— in her opinion, the great risk of its being all in vain. 

Enscombe, however, was gracious, gracious in fact, if not 
in word. His wish of staying longer evidently did not please ; 
but it was not opposed. All was safe and prosperous ; and 
as the removal of one solicitude generally makes way for 
another, Emma, being now certain of her ball, began to adopt 
as the next vexation Mr. Knightle/s provoking indifference 
about it. Either because he did not dance himself, or because 
the plan had been formed without his being consulted, he 
seemed resolved that it should not interest him, determined 
against its exciting any present curiosity, or affording him any 
future amusement. To her voluntary communications Emma 
could get no more approving reply than — 

< Very well. If the Westons think it worth while to be at 
all this trouble for a few hours of noisy entertainment, I have 
nothing to say against it, but that they shall not choose 
pleasures for me. — Oh, yes ! I must be there ; I could not 
refuse ; and I will keep as much awake as I can ; but I would 
rather be at home, looking over William Larkins's week's 
account ; much rather, I confess. — Pleasure in seeing dancing ! 
— not I, indeed, — I never look at it — I do not know who does. 
— Fine dancing, I believe, like virtue, must be its own reward. 
Those who are standing by are usually thinking of something 
very different.' 

This Emma felt was aimed at her ; and it made her quite 
angry. It was not in compliment to Jane Fairfax, however, 

229 



EMMA 

that he was so indififerent, or so indignant ; he was not 
guided by her feelings in reprobating the ball, for she enjoyed 
the thought of it to an extraordinary degree. It made her 
animated — open-hearted : she voluntarily said — 

' Oh ! Miss Woodhouse, I hope nothing may happen to 
prevent the ball ! What a disappointment it would be ! I do 
look forward to it, I own, with very great pleasure.' 

It was not to oblige Jane Fairfax, therefore, that he would 
have preferred the society of William Larkins. No ! — she 
was more and more convinced that Mrs. Weston was quite 
mistaken in that surmise. There was a great deal of friendly 
and of compassionate attachment on his side — but no love. 

Alas ! there was soon no leisure for quarrelling with Mr. 
Knightley. Two days of joyful security were immediately 
followed by the overthrow of everything. A letter arrived 
from Mr. Churchill to urge his nephew's instant return. Mrs. 
Churchill was unwell — far too unwell to do without him ; she 
had been in a very suffering state (so said her husband) when 
writing to her nephew two days before, though from her usual 
unwillingness to give pain, and constant habit of never think- 
ing of herself, she had not mentioned it ; but now she was too 
ill to trifle, and must entreat him to set off for Enscombe 
without delay. 

The substance of this letter was forwarded to Emma, in a 
note from Mrs. Weston, instantly. As to his going, it was 
inevitable. He must be gone within a few hours, though 
without feeling any real alarm for his aunt, to lessen his 
repugnance. He knew her illnesses ; they never occurred but 
for her own convenience. 

Mrs. Weston added, ' that he could only allow himself time 
to hurry to Highbury, after breakfast, and take leave of the 
few friends there whom he could suppose to feel any interest 
in him ; and that he might be expected at Hartfield very soon.' 

This wretched note was the finale of Emma's breakfast. 
When once it had been read, there was no doing anything, 
but lament and exclaim. The loss of the ball — the loss of 
the young man — and all that the young man might be feeling ! 
• — It was too wretched ! — Such a delightful evening as it 
would have been ! — Everybody so happy ! and she and her 
partner the happiest ! — * I said it would be so,' was the only 
consolation. 

230 



EMMA 

Her father's feelings were quite distinct. He thought 
principally of Mrs. Churchill's illness, and wanted to know 
how she was treated ; and as for the ball, it was shocking to 
have dear Emma disappointed ; but they would all be safer at 
home. 

Emma was ready for her visitor some time before he 
appeared ; but if this reflected at all upon his impatience, his 
sorrowful look and total want of spirits when he did come 
might redeem him. He felt the going away almost too much 
to speak of it. His dejection was most evident. He sat really 
lost in thought for the first few minutes ; and when rousing 
himself, it was only to say — 

* Of all horrid things, leave-taking is the worst.' 

' But you will come again,' said Emma. ' This will not be 
your only visit to Randalls.' 

' Ah ! — (shaking his head) — the uncertainty of when I may 
be able to return ! — I shall try for it with a zeal ! It will be 
the object of all my thoughts and cares ! — and if my uncle 
and aunt go to town this spring — but I am afraid — they did 
not stir last spring — I am afraid it is a custom gone for ever.' 

' Our poor ball must be quite given up.' 

'Ah! that ball! — why did we wait for anything? — why 
not seize the pleasure at once ? — how often is happiness 
destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation ! — You told us 
it would be so. — Oh ! Miss Woodhouse, why are you always 
so right ? ' 

' Indeed, I am very sorry to be right in this instance. I 
would much rather have been merry than wise.' 

' If I can come again, we are still to have our ball. My 
father depends on it. Do not forget your engagement.' 

Emma looked graciously. 

' Such a fortnight as it has been I ' he continued ; ' every 
day more precious and more delightful than the day before ! — 
every day making me less fit to bear any other place. Happy 
those who can remain at Highbury ! ' 

' As you do us such ample justice now,' said Emma, laugh- 
ing, ' I will venture to ask, whether you did not come a little 
doubtingly at first ? Do not we rather surpass your expecta- 
tions ? I am sure we do. I am sure you did not much 
expect to like us. You would not have been so long in coming 
if you had had a pleasant idea of Highbury.' 

231 



EMMA 

He laughed rather consciously ; and though denying the 
sentiment, Emma was convinced that it had been so. 

* And you must be off this very morning ? ' 

' Yes ; my father is to join me here : we shall walk back 
together, and I must be off immediately. I am almost afraid 
that every moment will bring him.' 

' Not five minutes to spare, even for your friends Miss 
Fairfax and Miss Bates ? How unlucky ! Miss Bates's 
powerful, argumentative mind might have strengthened yours.' 

'Yes — I have called there; passing the door, I thought 
it better. It was a right thing to do. I went in for three 
minutes, and was detained by Miss Bates's being absent. 
She was out ; and I felt it impossible not to wait till she came 
in. She is a woman that one may, that one must laugh at ; 
but that one would not wish to slight. It was better to pay 
my visit, then ' 

He hesitated, got up, walked to a window. 

' In short,' said he, ' perhaps, Miss Woodhouse — I think 
you can hardly be quite without suspicion.' 

He looked at her, as if wanting to read her thoughts. 
She hardly knew what to say. It seemed like the forerunner 
of something absolutely serious, which she did not wish. 
Forcing herself to speak, therefore, in the hope of putting it 
by, she calmly said — 

' You are quite in the right ; it was most natural to pay 
your visit, then ' 

He was silent. She believed he was looking at her ; 
probably reflecting on what she had said, and trying to 
understand the manner. She heard him sigh. It was natural 
for him to feel that he had cause to sigh. He could not 
believe her to be encouraging him. A few awkward moments 
passed, and he sat down again ; and in a more determined 
manner said — 

' It was something to feel that all the rest of my time 
might be given to Hartfield. My regard for Hartfield is most 
warm ' 

He stopped again, rose again, and seemed quite embar- 
rassed. — He was more in love with her than Emma had 
supposed ; and who can say how it might have ended, if his 
father had not made his appearance ? Mr. Woodhouse soon 
followed ; and the necessity of exertion made him composed. 

232 



EMMA 

A very few minutes more, however, completed the present 
trial. Mr. Weston, always alert when business was to be 
done, and as incapable of procrastinating any evil that was 
inevitable as of foreseeing any that was doubtful, said, ' It was 
time to go ; ' and the young man, though he might and did 
sigh, could not but agree, and rise to take leave. 

' I shall hear about you all,' said he ; * that is my chief 
consolation. I shall hear of everything that is going on 
among you. I have engaged Mrs. Weston to correspond with 
me. She has been so kind as to promise it. Oh ! the bless- 
ing of a female correspondent, when one is really interested in 
the absent ! — she will tell me everything. In her letters I 
shall be at dear Highbury again.' 

A very friendly shake of the hand, a very earnest ' Good- 
bye,' closed the speech, and the door had soon shut out Frank 
Churchill. Short had been the notice — short their meeting ; 
he was gone ; and Emma felt so sorry to part, and foresaw so 
great a loss to their little society from his absence, as to begin 
to be afraid of being too sorry, and feeling it too much. 

It was a sad change. They had been meeting almost 
every day since his arrival. Certainly his being at Randalls 
had given great spirit to the last two weeks — indescribable 
spirit ; the idea, the expectation of seeing him which every 
morning had brought, the assurance of his attentions, his 
liveliness, his manners ! It had been a very happy fortnight, 
and forlorn must be the sinking from it into the common 
course of Hartfield days. To complete every other recom- 
mendation, he had almost told her that he loved her. What 
strength, or what constancy of affection he might be subject 
to, was another point ; but at present she could not doubt his 
having a decidedly warm admiration, a conscious preference 
of herself; and this persuasion, joined to all the rest, made 
her think that she must be a little in love with him, in spite 
of every previous determination against it. 

' I certainly must,' said she. ' This sensation of listless- 
ness, weariness, stupidity, this disinclination to sit down and 
employ myself, this feeling of everything being dull and 
insipid about the house ! — I must be in love ; I should be the 
oddest creature in the world if I were not — for a few weeks at 
least. Well, evil to some is always good to others. I shall 
have many fellow -mourners for the ball, if not for Frank 

233 



EMMA 

Churchill ; but Mr. Knightley will be happy. He may spend 
the evening with his dear William Larkins now if he likes.' 

Mr. Knightley, however, showed no triumphant happiness. 
He could not say that he was sorry on his own account ; his 
very cheerful look would have contradicted him if he had ; but 
he said, and very steadily, that he was sorry for the disap- 
pointment of the others, and with considerable kindness 
added : — 

' You, Emma, who have so few opportunities of dancing, 
you are really out of luck ; you are very much out of luck ! ' 

It was some days before she saw Jane Fairfax, to judge of 
her honest regret in this woeful change ; but when they did 
meet, her composure was odious. She had been particularly 
unwell, however, suffering from headache to a degree, which 
made her aunt declare that, had the ball taken place, she did 
not think Jane could have attended it ; and it was charity to 
impute some of her unbecoming indifference to the languor of 
ill health. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

Emma continued to entertain no doubt of her being in love. 
Her ideas only varied as to the how much. At first, she 
thought it was a good deal , and afterwards, but little. She 
had great pleasure in hearing Frank Churchill talked of; and, 
for his sake, greater pleasure than ever in seeing Mr. and Mrs. 
Weston ; she was very often thinking of him, and quite im- 
patient for a letter, that she might know how he was, how 
were his spirits, how was his aunt, and what was the chance 
of his coming to Randalls again this spring. But, on the 
other hand, she could not admit herself to be unhappy, nor, 
after the first morning, to be less disposed for employment than 
usual ; she was still busy and cheerful ; and, pleasing as he 
was, she could yet imagine him to have faults ; and further, 
though thinking of him so much, and, as she sat drawing or 
working, forming a thousand amusing schemes for the progress 
and close of their attachment, fancying interesting dialogues, 
and inventing elegant letters ; the conclusion of every imaginary 
declaration on his side was that she refused him. Their 

234 



EMMA 

affection was always to subside into friendship. Everything 
tender and charming was to mark their parting ; but still they 
were to part. When she became sensible of this, it struck her 
that she could not be very much in love ; for in spite of her 
previous and fixed determination never to quit her father, 
never to marry, a strong attachment certainly must produce 
more of a struggle than she could foresee in her own feelings. 

' I do not find myself making any use of the word sacrifice^ 
said she. ' In not one of all my clever replies, my delicate 
negatives, is there any allusion to making a sacrifice. I do 
suspect that he is not really necessary to my happiness. So 
much the better. I certainly will not persuade myself to feel 
more than I do. I am quite enough in love. I should be 
sorry to be more.' 

Upon the whole, she was equally contented with her view 
of his feelings. 

' He is undoubtedly very much in love — everything denotes 
it — very much in love indeed ! — and when he comes again, if 
his affection continue, I must be on my guard not to encourage 
it. It would be most inexcusable to do otherwise, as my own 
mind is quite made up. Not that I imagine he can think I 
have been encouraging him hitherto. No ; if he had believed 
me at all to share his feelings, he would not have been so 
wretched. Could he have thought himself encouraged, his 
looks and language at parting would have been different. 
Still, however, I must be on my guard. This is in the sup- 
position of his attachment continuing what it now is ; but I do 
not know that I expect it will ; I do not look upon him to be 
quite the sort of man — I do not altogether build upon his steadi- 
ness or constancy. His feelings are warm, but I can imagine 
them rather changeable. Every consideration of the subject, 
in short, makes me thankful that my happiness is not more 
deeply involved. I shall do very well again after a little while 
— and then, it will be a good thing over ; for they say every- 
body is in love once in their lives, and I shall have been let 
off easily.' 

When his letter to Mrs. Weston arrived, Emma had the 
perusal of it ; and she read it with a degree of pleasure and 
admiration which made her at first shake her head over her 
own sensations, and think she had undervalued their strength. 
It was a long, well- written letter, giving the particulars of his 

235 



EMMA 

journey and of his feelings, expressing all the affection, grati- 
tude, and respect which was natural and honourable, and 
describing everything exterior and local that could be supposed 
attractive, with spirit and precision. No suspicious flourishes 
now of apology or concern ; it was the language of real feeling 
towards Mrs. Weston ; and the transition from Highbury to 
Enscombe, the contrast between the places in some of the first 
blessings of social life, was just enough touched on to show 
how keenly it was felt, and how much more might have been 
said but for the restraints of propriety. — The charm of her 
own name was not wanting. Miss Woodhouse appeared more 
than once, and never without a something of pleasing con- 
nection, either a compliment to her taste, or a remembrance of 
what she had said ; and in the very last time of its meeting 
her eye, unadorned as it was by any such broad wreath of 
gallantry, she yet could discern the effect of her influence, and 
acknowledge the greatest compliment perhaps of all conveyed. 
Compressed into the very lowest vacant corner were these 
words — ' I had not a spare moment on Tuesday, as you know, 
for Miss Woodhouse's beautiful little friend. Pray make my 
excuses and adieus to her.' This, Emma could not doubt, 
was all for herself. Harriet was remembered only from being 
her friend. His information and prospects, as to Enscombe, 
were neither worse nor better than had been anticipated ; 
Mrs. Churchill was recovering, and he dared not yet, even 
in his own imagination, fix a time for coming to Randalls 
again. 

Gratifying, however, and stimulative as was the letter in the 
material part, its sentiments, she yet found, when it was folded 
up and returned to Mrs. Weston, that it had not added any 
lasting warmth — that she could still do without the writer, and 
that he must learn to do without her. Her intentions were 
unchanged. Her resolution of refusal only grew more inter- 
esting, by the addition of a scheme for his subsequent consola- 
tion and happiness. His recollection of Harriet, and the 
words which clothed it, — the ' beautiful little friend,' — suggested 
to her the idea of Harriet's succeeding her in his affections. 
Was it impossible ? — No. Harriet undoubtedly was greatly 
his inferior in understanding ; but he had been very much 
struck with the loveliness of her face and the warm simplicity 
of her manner ; and all the probabilities of circumstance and 

236 



I 



EMMA 

connection were in her favour. For Harriet, it would be 
advantageous and delightful indeed. 

' I must not dwell upon it,' said she ; ' I must not think of 
it. I know the danger of indulging such speculations. But 
stranger things have happened ; and when we cease to care 
for each other as we do now, it will be the means of con- 
firming us in that sort of true disinterested friendship which I 
can already look forward to with pleasure.' 

It was well to have a comfort in store on Harriet's behalf, 
though it might be wise to let the fancy touch it seldom ; for 
evil in that quarter was at hand. As Frank Churchill's arrival 
had succeeded Mr. Elton's engagement in the conversation 
of Highbury, as the latest interest had entirely borne down 
the first, so now, upon Frank Churchill's disappearance, Mr. 
Elton's concerns were assuming the most irresistible form. — 
His wedding day was named. He would soon be among them 
again — Mr. Elton and his bride. There was hardly time to 
talk over the first letter from Enscombe, before * Mr. Elton and 
his bride' was in everybody's mouth, and Frank Churchill was 
forgotten. Emma grew sick at the sound. She had had three 
weeks of happy exemption from Mr. Elton ; and Harriet's 
mind, she had been willing to hope, had been lately gaining 
strength. With Mr. Weston's ball in view at least, there had 
been a great deal of insensibility to other things ; but it was 
now too evident that she had not attained such a state of 
composure as could stand against the actual approach — new 
carriage, bell ringing and all. 

Poor Harriet was in a flutter of spirits which required all 
the reasonings, and soothings, and attentions of every kind 
that Emma could give. Emma felt that she could not do too 
much for her, that Harriet had a right to all her ingenuity and 
all her patience ; but it was heavy work to be for ever con- 
vincing without producing any effect ; for ever agreed to, with- 
out being able to make their opinions the same. Harriet 
listened submissively, and said, ' it was very true ; it was just 
as Miss Woodhouse described — it was not worth while to think 
about them, — and she would not think about them any longer.' 
But no change of subject could avail, and the next half hour 
saw her as anxious and restless about the Eltons as before. 
At last Emma attacked her on another ground. 

' Your allowing yourself to be so occupied and so unhappy 

237 



EMMA 

about Mr. Elton's marrying, Harriet, is the strongest reproach 
you can make me. You could not give me a greater reproof 
for the mistake I fell into. It was all my doing, I know. I 
have not forgotten it, I assure you. Deceived myself, I did 
very miserably deceive you ; and it will be a painful reflection 
to me for ever. Do not imagine me in danger of forgetting it.' 

Harriet felt this too much to utter more than a few words 
of eager exclamation. Emma continued — 

' I have not said exert yourself, Harriet, for my sake ; 
think less, talk less of Mr. Elton for my sake ; because, for 
your own sake rather, I would wish it to be done, for the sake 
of what is more important than my comfort, — a habit of 
self-command in you, a consideration of what is your duty, an 
attention to propriety, an endeavour to avoid the suspicions 
of others, to save your health and credit, and restore your 
tranquillity. These are the motives which I have been 
pressing on you. They are very important, and sorry I am 
that you cannot feel them sufficiently to act upon them. My 
being saved from pain is a very secondary consideration. I 
want you to save yourself from greater pain. Perhaps I may 
sometimes have felt that Harriet would not forget what was 
due, — or rather, what would be kind by me.' 

This appeal to her affections did more than all the rest. 
The idea of wanting gratitude and consideration for Miss 
Woodhouse, whom she really loved extremely, made her 
wretched for a wh.ile ; and when the violence of grief was 
comforted away, still remained powerful enough to prompt to 
what was right, and support her in it very tolerably. 

' You, who have been the best friend I ever had in my life ! 
— Want gratitude to you ! — Nobody is equal to you ! I care 
for nobody as I do for you ! Oh, Miss Woodhouse, how 
ungrateful I have been ! ' 

Such expressions, assisted as they were by eveiything that 
look and manner could do, made Emma feel that she had 
never loved Harriet so well, nor valued her affection so highly 
before. 

' There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,' said she 
afterwards to herself. ' There is nothing to be compared to it. 
Warmth and tenderness of heart, with an affectionate, open 
manner, will beat all the clearness of head in the world, for 
attraction : I am sure it will. It is tenderness of heart which 

238 



EMMA 

makes my dear father so generally beloved — which gives 
Isabella all her popularity. I have it not ; but I know how to 
prize and respect it. Harriet is my superior in all the charm 
and all the felicity it gives. Dear Harriet ! I would not change 
you for the clearest-headed, longest-sighted, best-judging female 
iDreathing. Oh, the coldness of a Jane Fairfax ! Harriet is 
worth a hundred such : and for a wife — a sensible man's wife 
— it is invaluable. I mention no names ; but happy the man 
who changes Emma for Harriet ! ' 



CHAPTER XXXII 

Mrs. Elton was first seen at church : but though devotion 
might be interrupted, curiosity could not be satisfied by a bride 
in a pew, and it must be left for the visits in form which were 
then to be paid, to settle whether she were very pretty indeed, 
or only rather pretty, or not pretty at all. 

Emma had feelings, less of curiosity than of pride or 
propriety, to make her resolve on not being the last to pay her 
respects ; and she made a point of Harriet's going with her, 
that the worst of the business might be gone through as soon 
as possible. 

She could not enter the house again, could not be in the 
same room to which she had with such vain artifice retreated 
three months ago, to lace up her boot, without recollecting. 
A thousand vexatious thoughts would recur. Compliments, 
charades, and horrible blunders ; and it was not to be supposed 
that poor Harriet should not be recollecting too ; but she 
behaved very well, and was only rather pale and silent. The 
visit was of course short, and there was so much embarrassment 
and occupation of mind to shorten it that Emma would not 
allow herself entirely to form an opinion of the lady, and on no 
account to give one, beyond the nothing-meaning terms of 
being ' elegantly dressed, and very pleasing.' 

She did not really like her. She would not be in a hurry 
to find fault, but she suspected that there was no elegance ; — 
ease, but not elegance. She was almost sure that for a young 

239 




Mrs. Elton was first seen at cJuaxh. 



EMMA 

woman, a stranger, a bride, there was too much ease. Her 
person was rather good ; her face not unpretty ; but neither 
feature, nor air, nor voice, nor manner was elegant. Emma 
thought, at least, it would turn out so. 

As for Mr. Elton, his manners did not appear — but no, she 
would not permit a hasty or a witty word from herself about 
his manners. It was an awkward ceremony at any time to 
be receiving wedding visits ; and a man had need be all grace 
to acquit himself well through it. The woman was better off; 
she might have the assistance of fine clothes, and the privilege 
of bashfulness ; but the man had only his own good sense to 
depend on : and when she considered how peculiarly unlucky 
poor Mr. Elton was in being in the same room at once with 
the woman he had just married, the woman he had wanted to 
marry, and the woman whom he had been expected to marry, 
she must allow him to have the right to look as little wise, and 
to be as much aflfectedly, and as little really, easy as could be. 

' Well, Miss Woodhouse,' said Harriet, when they had 
quitted the house, and after waiting in vain for her friend to 
begin ; ' Well, Miss Woodhouse (with a gentle sigh), what do 
you think of her ? Is not she very charming ? ' 

There was a little hesitation in Emma's answer. 

' Oh ! yes — very — a very pleasing young woman.' 

' I think her beautiful, quite beautiful.' 

' Very nicely dressed, indeed ; a remarkably elegant gown.' 

* I am not at all surprised that she should have fallen in 
love.' 

* Oh ! no ; there is nothing to surprise one at all ; — a pretty 
fortune ; and she came in his way.' 

' I daresay,' returned Harriet, sighing again, ' I daresay she 
was very much attached to him.' 

' Perhaps she might ; but it is not every man's fate to 
marry the woman who loves him best. Miss Hawkins, per- 
haps, wanted a home, and thought this the best offer she was 
likely to have.' 

* Yes,' said Harriet earnestly, ' and well she might, nobody 
could ever have a better. Well, I wish them happy with all 
my heart. And now, Miss Woodhouse, I do not think I shall 
mind seeing them again. He is just as superior as ever : but 
being married, you know, it is quite a different thing. No, 
indeed, Miss Woodhouse, you need not be afraid ; I can sit 

R 241 



EMMA 

and admire him now without any great misery. To know 
that he has not thrown himself away is such a comfort ! — 
She does seem a charming young woman, just what he de- 
serves. Happy creature ! He called her " Augusta." How 
delightful ! ' 

When the visit was returned, Emma made up her mind. 
She could then see more and judge better. From Harriet's 
happening not to be at Hartfield, and her father's being 
present to engage Mr. Elton, she had a quarter of an hour of 
the lady's conversation to herself, and could composedly attend 
to her ; and the quarter of an hour quite convinced her that 
Mrs. Elton was a vain woman, extremely well satisfied with 
herself, and thinking much of her own importance ; that she 
meant to shine and be very superior, but with manners which 
had been formed in a bad school, pert and familiar ; that all 
her notions were drawn from one set of people, and one style 
of living ; that, if not foolish, she was ignorant, and that her 
society would certainly do Mr. Elton no good. 

Harriet would have been a better match. If not wise or 
refined herself, she would have connected him with those who 
were ; but Miss Hawkins, it might be fairly supposed from 
her easy conceit, had been the best of her own set. The 
rich brother-in-law, near Bristol, was the pride of the alliance, 
and his place and his carriages were the pride of him. 

The very first subject, after being seated, was Maple Grove, 
' My brother Mr. Suckling's seat ; ' a comparison of Hartfield 
to Maple Grove. The grounds of Hartfield were small, but 
neat and pretty ; and the house was modern and well-built. 
Mrs. Elton seemed most favourably impressed by the size of 
the room, the entrance, and all that she could see or imagine. 
' Very like Maple Grove indeed ! She was quite struck by 
the likeness ! — That room was the very shape and size of the 
morning-room at Maple Grove ; her sister's favourite room.' 
Mr. Elton was appealed to. ' Was not it astonishingly like ? 
— She could really almost fancy herself at Maple Grove.' 

' And the staircase. — You know, as I came in, I observed 
how very like the staircase was ; placed exactly in the same 
part of the house. I really could not help exclaiming ! I 
assure you, Miss Woodhouse, it is very delightful to me to be 
reminded of a place I am so extremely partial to as Maple 
Grove. I have spent so many happy months there ! (with a 

242 



EMMA 

little sigh of sentiment). A charming place, undoubtedly. 
Everybody who sees it is struck by its beauty ; but to me it 
has been quite a home. Whenever you are transplanted, like 
me, Miss Woodhouse, you will understand how very delightful 
it is to meet with anything at all like what one has left behind. 
I always say this is quite one of the evils of matrimony.' 

Emma made as slight a reply as she could ; but it was 
fully sufficient for Mrs. Elton, who only wanted to be talking 
herself. 

' So extremely like Maple Grove ! And it is not merely 
the house ; the grounds, I assure you, as far as I could ob- 
serve, are strikingly like. The laurels at Maple Grove are in 
the same profusion as here, and stand very much in the same 
way, — just across the lawn ; and I had a glimpse of a fine 
large tree, with a bench round it, which put me so exactly in 
mind ! My brother and sister will be enchanted with this 
place. People who have extensive grounds themselves are 
always pleased with anything in the same style.' 

Emma doubted the truth of this sentiment. She had a 
great idea that people who had extensive grounds themselves 
cared very little for the extensive grounds of anybody else ; 
but it was not worth while to attack an error so double-dyed, 
and she therefore only said in reply — 

'When you have seen more of this country, I am afraid 
you will think you have over-rated Hartfield. Surrey is full of 
beauties.' 

' Oh ! yes, I am quite aware of that. It is the garden of 
England, you know. Surrey is the garden of England.' 

' Yes ; but we must not rest our claims on that distinction. 
Many counties, I believe, are called the garden of England, as 
well as Surrey.' 

* No, I fancy not,' replied Mrs. Elton, with a most satisfied 
smile. ' I never heard any county but Surrey called so.' 

Emma was silenced. 

' My brother and sister have promised us a visit in the 
spring or summer at farthest,' continued Mrs. Elton ; ' and 
that will be our time for exploring. While they are with us, 
we shall explore a great deal, I daresay. They will have 
their barouche-landau, of course, which holds four perfectly ; 
and therefore, without saying anything of our carriage, we 
should be able to explore the different beauties extremely well. 

243 



EMMA 

They would hardly come in their chaise, I think, at that 
season of the year. Indeed, when the time draws on, I shall 
decidedly recommend their bringing the barouche-landau ; it 
will be so very much preferable. When people come into a 
beautiful country of this sort, you know, Miss Woodhouse, one 
naturally wishes them to see as much as possible ; and Mr. 
Suckling is extremely fond of exploring. We explored to 
King's-Weston twice last summer, in that way, most delight- 
fully, just after their first having the barouche-landau. You 
have many parties of that kind here, I suppose. Miss Wood- 
house, every summer ? ' 

* No ; not immediately here. We are rather out of distance 
of the very striking beauties which attract the sort of parties 
you speak of ; and we are a very quiet set of people, I believe ; 
more disposed to stay at home than engage in schemes of 
pleasure.' 

' Ah ! there is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort. 
Nobody can be more devoted to home than I am. I was 
quite a proverb for it at Maple Grove. Many a time has 
Selina said, when she has been going to Bristol, " I really 
cannot get this girl to move from the house. I absolutely 
must go in by myself, though I hate being stuck up in the 
barouche-landau without a companion ; but Augusta, I believe, 
with her own goodwill, would never stir beyond the park 
paling." Many a time has she said so ; and yet I am no 
advocate for entire seclusion. I think, on the contrary, when 
people shut themselves up entirely from society, it is a very 
bad thing ; and that it is much more advisable to mix in the 
world in a proper degree, without living in it either too much 
or too little. I perfectly understand your situation, however, 
Miss Woodhouse (looking towards Mr. Woodhouse), your 
father's state of health must be a great drawback. Why does 
not he try Bath ? — Indeed he should. Let me recommend 
Bath to you. I assure you I have no doubt of its doing Mr. 
Woodhouse good.' 

' My father tried it more than once, formerly, but without 
receiving any benefit ; and Mr. Perry, whose name, I daresay, 
is not unknown to you, does not conceive it would be at all 
more likely to be useful now.' 

* Ah ! that's a great pity ; for I assure you, Miss Wood- 
house, where the waters do agree, it is quite wonderful the 

244 



EMMA 

relief they give. In my Bath life I have seen such instances 
of it ! And it is so cheerful a place that it could not fail of 
being of use to Mr. Woodhouse's spirits, which, I understand, 
are sometimes much depressed. And as to its recommendation 
toyotij I fancy I need not take much pains to dwell on them. 
The advantages of Bath to the young are pretty generally 
understood. It would be a charming introduction for you, 
who have lived so secluded a life ; and I could immediately 
secure you some of the best society in the place. A line 
from me would bring you a little host of acquaintance ; and 
my particular friend, Mrs. Partridge, the lady I have always 
resided with when in Bath, would be most happy to show you 
any attentions, and would be the very person for you to go 
into public with.' 

It was as much as Emma could bear without being im- 
polite. The idea of her being indebted to Mrs. Elton for 
what was called an introduction — of her going into public 
under the auspices of a friend of Mrs. Elton's, — probably 
some vulgar, dashing widow, who, with the help of a boarder, 
just made a shift to live ! — The dignity of Miss Woodhouse, of 
Hartfield, was sunk indeed ! 

She restrained herself, however, from any of the reproofs 
she could have given, and only thanked Mrs. Elton coolly ; 
' but their going to Bath was quite out of the question ; and 
she was not perfectly convinced that the place might suit her 
better than her father.' And then, to prevent further outrage 
and indignation, changed the subject directly. 

' I do not ask whether you are musical, Mrs. Elton. Upon 
these occasions, a lady's character generally precedes her ; 
and Highbury has long known that you are a superior 
performer.' 

' Oh ! no, indeed ; I must protest against any such idea. 
A superior performer ! — very far from it, I assure you : con- 
sider from how partial a quarter your information came. I 
am doatingly fond of music — passionately fond ; and my 
friends say I am not entirely devoid of taste ; but as to any- 
thing else, upon my honour my performance is mediocre to 
the last degree. You, Miss Woodhouse, I well know, play 
delightfully. I assure you it has been the greatest satisfaction, 
comfort, and delight to me to hear what a musical society I 
am got into. I absolutely cannot do without music j it is a 

245 




So7ne vjilgar, dashing ividoiv. 



EMMA 

necessary of life to me ; and having always been used to a 
very musical society, both at Maple Grove and in Bath, it 
would have been a most serious sacrifice. I honestly said as 
much to Mr. E. when he was speaking of my future home, 
and expressing his fears lest the retirement of it should be 
disagreeable ; and the inferiority of the house too — knowing 
what I had been accustomed to — of course he was not wholly 
without apprehension. When he was speaking of it in that 
way, I honestly said that the world I could give up — parties, 
balls, plays — for I have no fear of retirement. Blessed with 
so many resources within myself, the world was not necessary 
to vie. I could do very well without it. To those who had 
no resources it was a different thing ; but my resources made 
me quite independent. And as to smaller-sized rooms than I 
had been used to, I really could not give it a thought. I 
hoped I was perfectly equal to any sacrifice of that description. 
Certainly, I had been accustomed to every luxury at Maple 
Grove ; but I did assure him that two carriages were not 
necessary to my happiness, nor were spacious apartments. 
" But," said I, " to be quite honest, I do not think I can live 
without something of a musical society. I condition for no- 
thing else ; but, without music, life would be a blank to me." ' 

' We cannot suppose,' said Emma, smiling, ' that Mr. Elton 
would hesitate to assure you of there being a very musical 
society in Highbury ; and I hope you will not find he has 
outstepped the truth more than may be pardoned, in considera- 
tion of the motive,' 

' No, indeed, I have no doubts at all on that head. I am 
delighted to find myself in such a circle : I hope we shall have 
many sweet little concerts together. I think. Miss Woodhouse, 
you and I must establish a musical club, and have regular 
weekly meetings at your house, or ours. Will not it be a good 
plan ? If we exert ourselves, I think we shall not be long in 
want of allies. Something of that nature would be particularly 
desirable for me^ as an inducement to keep me in practice ; for 
married women, you know — there is a sad story against them, 
in general. They are but too apt to give up music' 

' But you, who are so extremely fond of it, — there can be 
no danger, surely.' 

' I should hope not ; but really, when I look round among 
my acquaintance, 1 tremble. Selina has entirely given up 

247 



EMMA 

music ; — never touches the instrument though she played 
sweetly. And the same may be said of Mrs. Jeffereys — Clara 
Partridge that was, — and of the two Milmans, now Mrs. Bird 
and Mrs. James Cooper ; and of more than I can enumerate. 
Upon my word, it is enough to put one in a fright. I used to 
be quite angry with Selina ; but, really, I begin now to com- 
prehend that a married woman has many things to call her 
attention. I believe I was half an hour this morning shut up 
with my housekeeper.' 

* But everything of that kind,' said Emma, * will soon be in 
so regular a train ' 

* Well,' said Mrs. Elton, laughing, ' we shall see.' 

Emma, finding her so determined upon neglecting her 
music, had nothing more to say ; and, after a moment's pause, 
Mrs. Elton chose another subject. 

*We have been calling at Randalls,' said she, 'and found 
them both at home ; and very pleasant people they seem to 
be. I like them extremely. Mr. Weston seems an excellent 
creature — quite a first-rate favourite with me already, I assure 
you. And she appears so truly good, — there is something so 
motherly and kind-hearted about her that it wins upon one 
directly. — She was your governess, I think.' 

Emma was almost too much astonished to answer; but 
Mrs. Elton hardly waited for the affirmative before she went 
on. 

' Having understood as much, I was rather astonished to 
find her so very ladylike. But she is really quite the gentle- 
woman.' 

* Mrs. Weston's manners,' said Emma, ' were always par- 
ticularly good. Their propriety, simplicity, and elegance 
would make them the safest model for any young woman.' 

' And who do you think came in while we were there ? ' 
Emma was quite at a loss. The tone implied some old 
acquaintance, and how could she possibly guess ? 

' Knightley ! ' continued Mrs. Elton ; — ' Knightley himself! 
Was not it lucky ? For, not being within when he called the 
other day, I had never seen him before ; and of course, as so 
•particular a friend of Mr. E.'s, I had a great curiosity. '' My 
friend Knightley" had been so often mentioned that I was 
really impatient to see him ; and I must do my cara sposo the 
justice to say that he need not be ashamed of his friend. 

248 



I 



EMMA 

Knightley is quite the gentleman ; I like him very much. 
Decidedly, I think, a very gentlemanlike man.' 

Happily, it was now time to be gone. They were off, and 
Emma could breathe. 

* Insufferable woman 1 ' was her immediate exclamation. 
* Worse than I had supposed. Absolutely insufferable ! 
Knightley ! — I could not have believed it. Knightley ! — never 
seen him in her life before, and call him Knightley ! — and 
discover that he is a gentleman ! A little upstart, vulgar 
being, with her Mr. E. and her cara sposo^ and her resources, 
and all her airs of pert pretension and underbred finery. 
Actually to discover that Mr. Knightley is a gentleman ! I 
doubt whether he will return the compliment, and discover her 
to be a lady. I could not have believed it ! And to propose 
that she and I should unite to form a musical club ! One 
would fancy we were bosom friends ! And Mrs. Weston ! — 
Astonished that the person who had brought me up should be 
a gentlewoman ! Worse and worse. I never met with her 
equal. Much beyond my hopes. Harriet is disgraced by 
any comparison. Oh ! what would Frank Churchill say to 
her, if he were here .'' How angry and how diverted he would 
be ! Ah ! there I am — thinking of him directly. Always the 
first person to be thought of! How I catch myself out ! 
Frank Churchill comes as regularly into my mind ! ' 

All this ran so glibly through her thoughts that by the 
time her father had arranged himself, after the bustle of the 
Eltons' departure, and was ready to speak, she was very 
tolerably capable of attending. 

* Well, my dear,' he deliberately began, * considering we 
never saw her before, she seems a very pretty sort of young 
lady ; and I daresay she was very much pleased with you. 
She speaks a little too quick. A little quickness of voice 
there is which rather hurts the ear. But I believe I am nice ; 
I do not like strange voices ; and nobody speaks like you and 
poor Miss Taylor. However, she seems a very obliging, 
pretty -behaved young lady, and no doubt will make him a 
very good wife. Though I think he had better not have 
married. I made the best excuses I could for not having 
been able to wait on him and Mrs, Elton on this happy 
occasion ; I said that I hoped I should in the course of the 
summer. But I ought to have gone before. Not to wait 

249 



EMMA 

upon a bride is very remiss. Ah ! it shows what a sad invalid 
I am ! — But I do not like the corner into Vicarage Lane.' 

I daresay your apologies were accepted, sir. Mr. Elton 
knows you.' 

' Yes : but a young lady — a bride — I ought to have paid 
my respects to her if possible. It was being very deficient.' 

' But, my dear papa, you are no friend to matrimony ; and 
therefore why should you be so anxious to pay your respects 
to a bride ? It ought to be no recommendation to you. It 
is encouraging people to marry if you make so much of them.' 

* No, my dear, I never encouraged anybody to marry, but 
I would always wish to pay every proper attention to a lady — 
and a bride, especially, is never to be neglected. More is 
avowedly due to her. A bride, you know, my dear, is always 
the first in company, let the others be who they may.' 

'Well, papa, if this is not encouragement to marry, I do 
not know what is. And I should never have expected you to 
be lending your sanction to such vanity-baits for poor young 
ladies.' 

' My dear, you do not understand me. This is a matter of 
mere common politeness and good-breeding, and has nothing 
to do with any encouragement to people to marry.' 

Emma had done. Her father was growing nervous, and 
could not understand her. Her mind returned to Mrs. Elton's 
offences, and long, very long, did they occupy her. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

Emma was not required, by any subsequent discovery, to 
retract her ill opinion of Mrs. Elton. Her observation had 
been pretty correct. Such as Mrs. Elton appeared to her on 
this second interview, such she appeared whenever they met 
again, — self-important, presuming, familiar, ignorant, and ill- 
bred. She had a little beauty and a little accomplishment, 
but so little judgment that she thought herself coming with 
superior knowledge of the world, to enliven and improve a 
country neighbourhood, and conceived Miss Hawkins to have 

250 



EMMA 

held such a place in society as Mrs. Elton's consequence only 
could surpass. 

There was no reason to suppose Mr. Elton thought at all 
differently from his wife. He seemed not merely happy with 
her, but proud. He had the air of congratulating himself on 
having brought such a woman to Highbury as not even Miss 
Woodhouse could equal ; and the greater part of her new 
acquaintance, disposed to commend, or not in the habit of 
judging, following the lead of Miss Bates's goodwill, or taking 
it for granted that the bride must be as clever and as agree- 
able as she professed herself, were very well satisfied ; so that 
Mrs. Elton's praise passed from one mouth to another as it 
ought to do, unimpeded by Miss Woodhouse, who readily 
continued her first contribution, and talked with a good grace 
of her being ' very pleasant, and very elegantly dressed.' 

In one respect Mrs. Elton grew even worse than she had 
appeared at first. Her feelings altered towards Emma. — 
Offended, probably, by the little encouragement which her 
proposals of intimacy met with, she drew back, in her turn, 
and gradually became much more cold and distant ; and 
though the effect was agreeable, the ill-will which produced 
it was necessarily increasing Emma's dislike. Her manners 
too — and Mr. Elton's — were unpleasant towards Harriet. 
They were sneering and negligent. Emma hoped it must 
rapidly work Harriet's cure ; but the sensations which could 
prompt such behaviour sunk them both very much. — It was 
not to be doubted that poor Harriet's attachment had been an 
offering to conjugal unreserve, and her own share in the story, 
under a colouring the least favourable to her and the most 
soothing to him, had in all likelihood been given also. She 
was, of course, the object of their joint dislike. — When they 
had nothing else to say, it must be always easy to begin 
abusing Miss Woodhouse ; and the enmity which they dared 
not show in open disrespect to her found a broader vent in 
contemptuous treatment of Harriet. 

Mrs. Elton took a great fancy to Jane Fairfax ; and from 
the first. Not merely when a state of warfare with one young 
lady might be supposed to recommend the other, but from 
the very first ; and she was not satisfied with expressing a 
natural and reasonable admiration — but without solicitation, or 
plea, or privilege, she must be wanting to assist and befriend 

251 



EMMA 

her. — Before Emma had forfeited her confidence, and about 
the third time of their meeting, she heard all Mrs. Elton's 
knight-errantry on the subject. 

* Jane Fairfax is absolutely charming, Miss Woodhouse. — 
I quite rave about Jane Fairfax. — A sweet, interesting 
creature. So mild and ladylike — and with such talents ! — 
I assure you I think she has very extraordinary talents. I 
do not scruple to say that she plays extremely well. I know 
enough of music to speak decidedly on that point. Oh ! she 
is absolutely charming ! You will laugh at my warmth — but, 
upon my word, I talk of nothing but Jane Fairfax. — And her 
situation is so calculated to affect one ! — Miss Woodhouse, we 
must exert ourselves and endeavour to do something for her. 
We must bring her forward. Such talents as hers must not 
be suffered to remain unknown. — I daresay you have heard 
those charming lines of the poet — 

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, 
And waste its fragrance on the desert air. 

We must not allow them to be verified in sweet Jane Fairfax.' 

' I cannot think there is any danger of it,' was Emma's 
calm answer ; — 'and when you are better acquainted with Miss 
Fairfax's situation, and understand what her home has been, 
with Colonel and Mrs. Campbell, I have no idea that you will 
suppose her talents can he unknown.' 

' Oh ! but, dear Miss Woodhouse, she is now in such 
retirement, such obscurity, so thrown away. Whatever advan- 
tages she may have enjoyed with the Campbells are so palpably 
at an end ! And I think she feels it. I am sure she does. 
She is very timid and silent. One can see that she feels the 
want of encouragement. I like her the better for it. I must 
confess it is a recommendation to me. I am a great advocate 
for timidity — and I am sure one does not often meet with 
it. But in those who are at all inferior it is extremely pre- 
possessing. Oh ! I assure you, Jane Fairfax is a very delight- 
ful character, and interests me more than I can express.' 

' You appear to feel a great deal — but I am not aware how 
you or any of Miss Fairfax's acquaintance here, any of those 
who have known her longer than yourself, can show her any 
other attention than ' 

' My dear Miss Woodhouse, a vast deal may be done by 
252 




i'ou have iteard those charming lities of tlic pocW* 



EMMA 

those who dare to act. You and I need not be afraid. If 
we set the example, many will follow it as far as they can ; 
though all have not our situations. We have carriages to 
fetch and convey her home ; and we live in a style which 
could not make the addition of Jane Fairfax at any time 
the least inconvenient. I should be extremely displeased if 
Wright were to send us up such a dinner as could make me 
regret having asked more than Jane Fairfax to partake of it. 
I have no idea of that sort of thing. It is not likely that I 
should, considering what I have been used to. My greatest 
danger, perhaps, in housekeeping, may be quite the other 
way, in doing too much, and being too careless of expense. 
Maple Grove will probably be my model more than it ought 
to be — for we do not at all affect to equal my brother, Mr. 
Suckling, in income. However, my resolution is taken as 
to noticing Jane Fairfax. I shall certainly have her very 
often at my house, shall introduce her wherever I can, shall 
have musical parties to draw out her talents, and shall be 
constantly on the watch for an eligible situation. My acquaint- 
ance is so very extensive that I have little doubt of hearing of 
something to suit her shortly. I shall introduce her, of course, 
very particularly to my brother and sister when they come to 
us. I am sure they will like her extremely ; and when she 
gets a little acquainted with them her fears will completely 
wear off, for there really is nothing in the manners of either 
but what is highly conciliating. I shall have her very often 
indeed while they are with me ; and I daresay we shall some- 
times find a seat for her in the barouche-landau in some of our 
exploring parties.' 

' Poor Jane Fairfax ! ' thought Emma, — ' you have not de- 
served this. You may have done wrong with regard to Mr. 
Dixon ; but this is a punishment beyond what you can have 
merited ! The kindness and protection of Mrs. Elton ! — " Jane 
Fairfax and Jane Fairfax." Heavens ! let me not suppose that 
she dares go about Emma Woodhouse-ing me ! But, upon 
my honour, there seems no limits to the licentiousness of that 
woman's tongue ! ' 

Emma had not to listen to such paradings again — to any 
so exclusively addressed to herself — so disgustingly decorated 
with a ' dear Miss Woodhouse.' The change on Mrs. Elton's 
side soon afterwards appeared, and she was left in peace — 

254 



i 



EMMA 

neither forced to be the very particular friend of Mrs. Elton, 
nor, under Mrs. Elton's guidance, the very active patroness of 
Jane Fairfax, and only sharing with others in a general way, 
in knowing what was felt, what was meditated, what was done. 

She looked on with some amusement. Miss Bates's grati- 
tude for Mrs. Elton's attentions to Jane was in the first 
style of guileless simplicity and warmth. She was quite one 
of her worthies — the most amiable, afifable, delightful woman 
— just as accomplished and condescending as Mrs. Elton 
meant to be considered. Emma's only surprise was that Jane 
Fairfax should accept those attentions and tolerate Mrs. Elton 
as she seemed to do. She heard of her walking with the 
Eltons, sitting with the Eltons, spending a day with the 
Eltons ! This was astonishing ! She could not have believed 
it possible that the taste or the pride of Miss Fairfax could 
endure such society and friendship as the Vicarage had to offer. 

' She is a riddle, quite a riddle,' said she. — ' To choose to 
remain here month after month, under privations of every 
sort. And now to choose the mortification of Mrs. Elton's 
notice, and the penury of her conversation, rather than return 
to the superior companions who have always loved her with 
such real, generous affection.' 

Jane had come to Highbury professedly for three months ; 
the Campbells were gone to Ireland for three months ; 
but now the Campbells had promised their daughter to stay at 
least till Midsummer, and fresh invitations had arrived for her 
to join them there. According to Miss Bates — it all came 
from her — Mrs. Dixon had written most pressingly. Would 
Jane but go, means were to be found, servants sent, friends 
contrived — no travelling difficulty allowed to exist ; but still 
she had declined it. 

' She must have some motive, more powerful than appears, 
for refusing this invitation,' was Emma's conclusion. ' She 
must be under some sort of penance, inflicted either by the 
Campbells or herself. There is great fear, great caution, 
great resolution somewhere. She is not to be with the Dixons. 
The decree is issued by somebody. But why must she consent 
to be with the Eltons ? Here is quite a separate puzzle.' 

Upon her speaking her wonder aloud on that part of the 
subject before the few who knew her opinion of Mrs. Elton, 
Mrs. Weston ventured this apology for Jane. 

255 



EMMA 

'We cannot suppose that she has any great enjoyment at 
the Vicarage, my dear Emma — but it is better than being 
always at home. Her aunt is a good creature ; but, as a 
constant companion, must be very tiresome. We must 
consider what Miss Fairfax quits, before we condemn her taste 
for what she goes to.' 

' You are right, Mrs. Weston,' said Mr. Knightley warmly ; 
' Miss Fairfax is as capable as any of us of forming a just 
opinion of Mrs. Elton. Could she have chosen with whom 
to associate, she would not have chosen her. But (with a 
reproachful smile at Emma) she receives attentions from Mrs. 
Elton which nobody else pays her.' 

Emma felt that Mrs. Weston was giving her a momentary 
glance, and she was herself struck by his warmth. With a 
faint blush, she presently replied — 

' Such attentions as Mrs. Elton's, I should have imagined, 
would rather disgust than gratify Miss Fairfax. Mrs. Elton's 
invitations I should have imagined anything but inviting.' 

' I should not wonder,' said Mrs. Weston, ' if Miss Fairfax 
were to have been drawn on beyond her own inclination, by 
her aunt's eagerness in accepting Mrs. Elton's civilities for her. 
Poor Miss Bates may very likely have committed her niece, 
and hurried her into a greater appearance of intimacy than her 
own good sense would have dictated, in spite of the very 
natural wish of a little change.' 

Both felt rather anxiouc to hear him speak again ; and 
after a few minutes' silence he said — 

' Another thing must be taken into consideration too — Mrs. 
Elton does not talk to Miss Fairfax as she speaks of her. 
We all know the difference between the pronouns he or she 
and thou, the plainest spoken amongst us ; we all feel the 
influence of a something beyond common civility in our 
personal intercourse with each other — a something more early 
implanted. We cannot give anybody the disagreeable hints 
that we may have been very full of the hour before. We feel 
things differently. And besides the operation of this, as a 
general principle, you maybe sure that Miss Fairfax awes Mrs. 
Elton by her superiority both of mind and manner ; and that, 
face to face, Mrs. Elton treats her with all the respect which she 
has a claim to. Such a woman as Jane Fairfax probably 
never fell in Mrs. Elton's way before — and no degree of vanity 

256 



EMMA 

can prevent her acknowledging her own comparative littleness 
in action, if not in consciousness.' 

' I know how highly you think of Jane Fairfax,' said Emma. 
Little Henry was in her thoughts, and a mixture of alarm and 
delicacy made her irresolute what else to say. 

* Yes,' he replied, ' anybody may know how highly I think 
of her.' 

' And yet,' said Emma, beginning hastily, and with an arch 
look, but soon stopping — it was better, however, to know the 
worst at once — she hurried on, 'and yet, perhaps, you may 
hardly be aware yourself how highly it is. The extent 
of your admiration may take you by surprise some day 
or other.' 

Mr. Knightley was hard at work upon the lower buttons 
of his thick leather gaiters, and either the exertion of getting 
them together, or some other cause, brought the colour into his 
face, as he answered — 

' Oh ! are you there ? But you are miserably behindhand. 
Mr. Cole gave me a hint of it six weeks ago.' 

He stopped. Emma felt her foot pressed by Mrs. Weston, 
and did not herself know what to think. In a moment he 
went on — 

*That will never be, however, I can assure you. Miss 
Fairfax, I daresay, would not have me if I were to ask her ; 
and I am very sure I shall never ask her.' 

Emma returned her friend's pressure with interest ; and 
was pleased enough to exclaim — 

' You are not vain, Mr. Knightley. I will say that for you.' 

He seemed hardly to hear her ; he was thoughtful, and, 
in a manner which showed him not pleased, soon afterwards 
said — 

* So you have been settling that I should marry Jane 
Fairfax.' 

' No, indeed, I have not. You have scolded me too much 
for match-making for me to presume to take such a liberty 
with you. What I said just now meant nothing. One says 
those sort of things, of course, without any idea of a serious 
meaning. Oh no ; upon my word I have not the smallest 
wish for your marrying Jane Fairfax, or Jane anybody. You 
would not come in and sit with us in this comfortable way if 
you were married.' 

& 257 



EMMA 

Mr. Knightley was thoughtful again. The result of his 
reverie was — ' No, Emma, I do not think the extent of my 
admiration for her will ever take me by surprise. I never had 
a thought of her in that way, I assure you.' And, soon 
afterwards, ' Jane Fairfax is a very charming young woman — 
but not even Jane Fairfax is perfect. She has a fault. She 
has not the open temper which a man would wish for in a wife.' 

Emma could not but rejoice to hear that she had a fault. 

*Well,' said she, 'and you soon silenced Mr. Cole, I 
suppose.' 

' Yes, very soon. He gave me a quiet hint ; I told him he 
was mistaken ; he asked my pardon, and said no more. Cole 
does not want to be wiser or wittier than his neighbours.' 

' In that respect how unlike dear Mrs. Elton, who wants 
to be wiser and wittier than all the world ! I wonder how 
she speaks of the Coles — what she calls them. How can she 
find any appellation for them, deep enough in familiar vulgarity ? 
She calls you Knightley ; what can she do for Mr. Cole ? 
And so I am not to be surprised that Jane Fairfax accepts her 
civilities, and consents to be with her. Mrs. Weston, your 
argument weighs most with me. I can much more readily 
enter into the temptation of getting away from Miss Bates, 
than I can believe in the triumph of Miss Fairfax's mind over 
Mrs. Elton. I have no faith in Mrs. Elton's acknowledging 
herself the inferior in thought, word, or deed ; or in her being 
under any restraint beyond her own scanty rule of good breed- 
ing. I cannot imagine that she will not be continually insulting 
her visitor with praise, encouragement, and offers of service ; 
that she will not be continually detailing her magnificent 
intentions, from the procuring her a permanent situation to the 
including her in those delightful exploring parties which are to 
take place in the barouche-landau.' 

' Jane Fairfax has feeling,' said Mr. Knightley ; ' I do not 
accuse her of want of feeling. Her sensibilities, I suspect, are 
strong, and her temper excellent in its power of forbearance, 
patience, self-control ; but it wants openness. She is reserved ; 
more reserved, I think, than she used to be : and I love an 
open temper. No ; till Cole alluded to my supposed attach- 
ment, it had never entered my head. I saw Jane Fairfax, and 
conversed with her, with admiration and pleasure always ; but 
with no thought beyond.' 

258 



i 



EMMA 

*Well, Mrs. Weston,' said Emma, triumphantly, when he 
left them, ' what do you say now to Mr. Knightley's marrying 
Jane Fairfax ? ' 

* Why, really, dear Emma, I say that he is so very much 
occupied by the idea of not being in love with her, that I 
should not wonder if it were to end in his being so at last. 
Do not beat me.' 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

Everybody in and about Highbury, who had ever visited Mr. 
Elton, was disposed to pay him attention on his marriage. 
Dinner parties and evening parties were made for him and his 
lady ; and invitations flowed in so fast that she had soon the 
pleasure of apprehending they were never to have a disengaged 
day. 

' I see how it is,' said she ; ' I see what a life I am to lead 
among you. Upon my word we shall be absolutely dissipated. 
We really seem quite the fashion. If this is living in the 
country, it is nothing very formidable. From Monday next to 
Saturday, I assure you we have not a disengaged day ! A 
woman with fewer resources than I have need not have been 
at a loss.' 

No invitation came amiss to her. Her Bath habits made 
evening parties perfectly natural to her, and Maple Grove had 
given her a taste for dinners. She was a httle shocked at the 
want of two drawing-rooms, at the poor attempt at rout-cakes, 
and there being no ice in the Highbury card parties. Mrs. 
Bates, Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Goddard, and others, were a good 
deal behindhand in knowledge of the world, but she would 
soon show them how everything ought to be arranged. In the 
course of the spring she must return their civilities by one very 
superior party ; in which her card tables should be set out with 
their separate candles and unbroken packs in the true style, 
and more waiters engaged for the evening than their own 
establishment could furnish, to carry round the refreshments 
at exactly the proper hour, and in the proper order. 

Emma, in the meanwhile, could not be satisfied without a 
dinner at Hartfield for the Eltons. They must not do less 

259 



EMMA 

than others, or she should be exposed to odious suspicions, 
and imagined capable of pitiful resentment. A dinner there 
must be. After Emma had talked about it for ten minutes, 
Mr. Woodhouse felt no unwillingness, and only made the 
usual stipulation of not sitting at the bottom of the table him- 
self, with the usual regular difficulty of deciding who should do 
it for him. 

The persons to be invited required little thought. Besides 
the Eltons, it must be the Westons and Mr. Knightley ; so far 
it was all of course : and it was hardly less inevitable that poor 
little Harriet must be asked to make the eighth ; but this 
invitation was not given with equal satisfaction, and, on many 
accounts, Emma was particularly pleased by Harriet's begging 
to be allowed to decline it. ' She would rather not be in his 
company more than she could help. She was not quite able 
to see him and his charming happy wife together, without 
feeling uncomfortable. If Miss Woodhouse would not be dis- 
pleased she would rather stay at home.' It was precisely what 
Emma would have wished, had she deemed it possible enough 
for wishing. She was delighted with the fortitude of her little 
friend, — for fortitude she knew it was in her to give up being 
in company, and stay at home ; and she could now invite the 
very person whom she really wanted to make the eighth, Jane 
Fairfax. Since her last conversation with Mrs. Weston and 
Mr. Knightley she was more conscience-stricken about Jane 
Fairfax than she had often been. Mr. Knightley's words 
dwelt with her. He had said that Jane Fairfax received 
attentions from Mrs. Elton which nobody else paid her. 

' This is very true,' said she, ' at least as far as relates to 
me, which was all that was meant, and it is very shameful. 
Of the same age, and always knowing her, I ought to have 
been more her friend. She will never like me now. I have 
neglected her too long. But I will show her greater attention 
than I have done.' 

Every invitation was successful. They were all disengaged 
and all happy. The preparatory interest of this dinner, how- 
ever, was not yet over. A circumstance rather unlucky oc- 
curred. The two eldest little Knightleys were engaged to pay 
their grandpapa and aunt a visit of some weeks in the spring, 
and their papa now proposed bringing them, and staying one 
whole day at Hartfield — which one day would be the very day 

260 



EMMA 

of this party. His professional engagements did not allow of 
his being put off, but both father and daughter were'disturbed 
by its happening so. Mr. Woodhouse considered eight persons 
at dinner together as the utmost that his nerves could bear — 
and here would be a ninth — and Emma apprehended that it 
would be a ninth very much out of humour at not being able 
to come even to Hartfield for forty-eight hours without falling 
in with a dinner party. 

She comforted her father better than she could comfort 
herself, by representing that though he certainly would make 
them nine, yet he always said so little, that the increase of 
noise would be very immaterial. She thought it in reality a 
sad exchange for herself, to have him, with his grave looks 
and reluctant conversation, opposed to her instead of his 
brother. 

The event was more favourable to Mr. Woodhouse than to 
Emma. John Knightley came ; but Mr. Weston was unex- 
pectedly summoned to town and must be absent on the very 
day. He might be able to join them in the evening, but 
certainly not to dinner. Mr. Woodhouse was quite at ease ; 
and the seeing him so, with the arrival of the little boys and 
the philosophic composure of her brother on hearing his fate, 
removed the chief of even Emma's vexation. 

The day came, the party were punctually assembled, and 
Mr. John Knightley seemed early to devote himself to the 
business of being agreeable. Instead of drawing his brother 
off to a window while they waited for dinner, he was talking to 
Miss Fairfax. Mrs. Elton, as elegant as lace and pearls could 
make her, he looked at in silence — wanting only to observe 
enough for Isabella's information — but Miss Fairfax was an 
old acquaintance and a quiet girl, and he could talk to her. 
He had met her before breakfast as he was returning from a 
walk with his little boys, when it had been just beginning to 
rain. It was natural to have some civil hopes on the subject, 
and he said — 

' I hope you did not venture far. Miss Fairfax, this morning, 
or I am sure you must have been wet. We scarcely got home 
in time. I hope you turned directly.' 

' I went only to the post-office,' said she, ' and reached 
home before the rain was much. It is my daily errand, I 
always fetch the letters when I am here. It saves trouble, and 

961 



EMMA 

is a something to get me out. A walk before breakfast does 
me good.' 

* Not a walk in the rain, I should imagine.' 

* No ; but it did not absolutely rain when I set out.' 
Mr. John Knightley smiled, and replied — 

' That is to say, you chose to have your walk, for you were 
not six yards from your own door when I had the pleasure of 
meeting you ; and Henry and John had seen more drops than 
they could count long before. The post-office has a great 
charm at one period of our lives. When you have lived to my 
age, you will begin to think letters are never worth going 
through the rain for.' 

There was a little blush, and then this answer : — 

' I must not hope to be ever situated as you are, in the 
midst of every dearest connection, and therefore I cannot ex- 
pect that simply growing older should make me indifferent 
about letters.' 

' Indifferent ! Oh no — I never conceived you could become 
indifferent. Letters are no matter of indifference ; they are 
generally a very positive curse.' 

' You are speaking of letters of business ; mine are letters 
of friendship.' 

' I have often thought them the worse of the two,' replied 
he coolly. ' Business, you know, may bring money, but friend- 
ship hardly ever does.' 

' Ah ! you are not serious now. I know Mr. John Knightley 
too well — I am very sure he understands the value of friendship 
as well as anybody. I can easily believe that letters are very 
little to you, much less than to me ; but it is not your being 
ten years older than myself which makes the difference, it is 
not age, but situation. You have everybody dearest to you 
always at hand, I, probably, never shall again ; and therefore 
till I have outlived all my affections, a post-office, I think, must 
always have power to draw me out, in worse weather than 
to-day.' 

' When I talked of your being altered by time, by the pro- 
gress of years,' said John Knightley, * I meant to imply the 
change of situation which time usually brings. I consider 
one as including the other. Time will generally lessen the 
interest of every attachment not within the daily circle — but 
that is not the change I had in view for you. As an old 

962 



EMMA 

friend, you will allow me to hope, Miss Fairfax, that ten 
years hence you may have as many concentrated objects as I 
have.' 

It was kindly said, and very far from giving offence. A 
pleasant 'thank you' seemed meant to laugh it off; but a 
blush, a quivering lip, a tear in the eye, showed that it was 
felt beyond a laugh. Her attention was now claimed by Mr. 
Woodhouse, who being, according to his custom on such 
occasions, making the circle of his guests, and paying his 
particular compliments to the ladies, was ending with her — 
and with all his mildest urbanity said — 

' I am very sorry to hear, Miss Fairfax, of your being out 
this morning in the rain. Young ladies should take care of 
themselves. Young ladies are delicate plants. They should 
take care of their health and their complexion. My dear, did 
you change your stockings ? ' 

' Yes, sir, I did indeed ; and I am very much obliged by 
your kind solicitude about me ! ' 

' My dear Miss Fairfax, young ladies are very sure to be 
cared for. — I hope your good grandmamma and aunt are well. 
They are some of my very old friends. I wish my health 
allowed me to be a better neighbour. You do us a great deal 
of honour to-day, I am sure. My daughter and I are both 
highly sensible of your goodness, and have the greatest satis- 
faction in seeing you at Hartfield.' 

The kind-hearted, polite old man might then sit down and 
feel that he had done his duty, and made every fair lady 
welcome and easy. 

By this time the walk in the rain had reached Mrs. Elton, 
and her remonstrances now opened upon Jane. 

* My dear Jane, what is this I hear ? — Going to the post- 
ofHce in the rain ! — This must not be, I assure you. You sad 
girl, how could you do such a thing ? It is a sign I was not 
there to take care of you.' 

Jane very patiently assured her that she had not caught any 
cold. 

' Oh ! do not tell me. You really are a very sad girl, and 
do not know how to take care of yourself. To the post-office 
indeed ! Mrs. Weston, did you ever hear the like .? You and 
I must positively exert our authority.' 

* My advice,' said Mrs. Weston kindly and persuasively, ' I 

• 263 




'/ am very sorry to liear. Miss Fah-fax, of your being out this morning in the rain. 



i 



EMMA 

certainly do feel tempted to give. — Miss Fairfax, you must not 
run such risks. Liable as you have been to severe colds, 
indeed you ought to be particularly careful, especially at this 
time of year. The spring I always think requires more than 
common care. Better wait an hour or two, or even half a 
day, for your letters, than run the risk of bringing on your 
cough again. Now do not you feel that you had ? Yes, I am 
sure you are much too reasonable. You look as if you would 
not do such a thing again.' 

* Oh ! she shall not do such a thing again,' eagerly rejoined 
Mrs. Elton. * We will not allow her to do such a thing again :' 
— and nodding significantly — 'there must be some arrange- 
ment made, there must indeed. I shall speak to Mr. E. The 
man who fetches our letters every morning (one of our men, I 
forget his name) shall inquire for yours too and bring them to 
you. That will obviate all difficulties, you know ; and from us 
I really think, my dear Jane, you can have no scruple to accept 
such an accommodation.' 

' You are extremely kind,' said Jane ; * but I cannot give 
up my early walk. I am advised to be out of doors as much 
as I can ; I must walk somewhere, and the post-office is an 
object ; and, upon my word, I have scarcely ever had a bad 
morning before.' 

* My dear Jane, say no more about it. The thing is deter- 
mined, that is (laughing affectedly) as far as I can presume to 
determine anything without the concurrence of my lord and 
master. You know, Mrs. Weston, you and I must be cautious 
how we express ourselves. But I do flatter myself, my dear 
Jane, that my influence is not entirely worn out. If I meet 
with no insuperable difficulties, therefore, consider that point 
as settled.' 

' Excuse me,' said Jane earnestly, * I cannot by any means 
consent to such an arrangement, so needlessly troublesome 
to your servant. If the errand were not a pleasure to me, it 
could be done, as it always is when I am not here, by my 
grandmamma's.' 

' Oh ! my dear ; but so much as Patty has to do ! — And it 
is a kindness to employ our men.' 

Jane looked as if she did not mean to be conquered ; but, 
instead of answering, she began speaking again to Mr. John 
Knightley. 

265 



EMMA 

' The post-office is a wonderful establishment ! ' said she. 
' The regularity and dispatch of it ! If one thinks of all that it 
has to do, and all that it does so well, it is really astonishing I ' 

' It is certainly very well regulated.' 

' So seldom that any negligence or blunder appears ! So 
seldom that a letter, among the thousands that are constantly 
passing about the kingdom, is even carried wrong — and not 
one in a million, I suppose, actually lost ! And when one con- 
siders the variety of hands, and of bad hands too, that are to be 
deciphered, it increases the wonder.' 

' The clerks grow expert from habit. They must begin 
with some quickness of sight and hand, and exercise improves 
them. If you want any further explanation,' continued he 
smiling, ' they are paid for it. That is the key to a great deal 
of capacity. The public pays and must be served well.' 

The varieties of handwriting were further talked of, and 
the usual observations made. 

' I have heard it asserted,' said John Knightley, ' that the 
same sort of handwriting often prevails in a family ; and 
where the same master teaches, it is natural enough. But for 
that reason, I should imagine the likeness must be chiefly con- 
fined to the females, for boys have very little teaching after an 
early age, and scramble into any hand they can get. Isabella 
and Emma, I think, do write very much alike. I have not 
always known their writing apart.' 

' Yes,' said his brother hesitatingly, ' there is a likeness. I 
know what you mean — but Emma's hand is the strongest.' 

' Isabella and Emma both write beautifully,' said Mr. 
Woodhouse ; ' and always did. And so does poor Mrs. Weston ' 
— with half a sigh and half a smile at her. 

' I never saw any gentleman's handwriting ' — Emma began, 
looking also at Mrs. Weston ; but stopped, on perceiving that 
Mrs. Weston was attending to some one else — and the pause 
gave her time to reflect. ' Now, how am I going to introduce 
him ? — Am I unequal to speaking his name at once before all 
these people ? Is it necessary for me to use any roundabout 
phrase ? — Your Yorkshire friend — your correspondent in York- 
shire ; — that will be the way, I suppose, if I were very bad. 
No, I can pronounce his name without the smallest distress. 
I certainly get better and better. — Now for it.' 

Mrs. Weston was disengaged, and Emma began again — 
266 



EMMA 

' Mr. Frank Churchill writes one of the best gentlemen's 
hands I ever saw.' 

' I do not admire it,' said Mr. Knightley. * It is too small 
— wants strength. It is like a woman's writing.' 

This was not submitted to by either lady. They vindicated 
him against the base aspersion. ' No, it by no means wanted 
strength — it was not a large hand, but very clear and certainly 
strong. Had not Mrs. Weston any letter about her to produce ?' 
No, she had heard from him very lately, but having answered 
the letter, had put it away. 

' If we were in the other room,' said Emma — * if I had my 
writing-desk, I am sure I could produce a specimen. I have 
a note of his. — Do not you remember, Mrs. Weston, employing 
him to write for you one day ? ' 

* He chose to say he was employed.' 

* Well, well, I have that note ; and can show it after dinner 
to convince Mr. Knightley.' 

' Oh ! when a gallant young man, like Mr. Frank Churchill,' 
said Mr. Knightley drily, * writes to a fair lady like Miss 
Woodhouse, he will, of course, put forth his best.' 

Dinner was on table. Mrs. Elton, before she could be 
spoken to, was ready ; and before Mr. Woodhouse had reached 
her with his request to be allowed to hand her into the dining- 
parlour, was saying — 

'Must I go first ? I really am ashamed of always leading 
the way.' 

Jane's solicitude about fetching her own letters had not 
escaped Emma. She had heard and seen it all ; and felt 
some curiosity to know whether the wet walk of this morning 
had produced any. She suspected that it had; that it would 
not have been so resolutely encountered but in full expectation 
of hearing from some one very dear, and that it had not been 
in vain. She thought there was an air of greater happiness 
than usual — a glow both of complexion and spirits. 

She could have made an inquiry or two, as to the expedi- 
tion and the expense of the Irish mails ; — it was at her tongue's 
end — but she abstained. She was quite determined not to 
utter a word that should hurt Jane Fairfax's feelings ; and they 
followed the other ladies out of the room, arm in arm, with an 
appearance of goodwill highly becoming to the beauty and 
grace of each. 

267 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XXXV 

When the ladies returned to the drawing-room after dinner, 
Emma found it hardly possible to prevent their making two 
distinct parties ; — with so much perseverance in judging and 
behaving ill did Mrs. Elton engross Jane Fairfax and slight 
herself. She and Mrs. Weston were obliged to be almost 
always either talking together or silent together. Mrs. Elton 
left them no choice. If Jane repressed her for a little time, 
she soon began again ; and though much that passed between 
them was in a half-whisper, especially on Mrs. Elton's side, 
there was no avoiding a knowledge of their principal subjects : 
— The post-office — catching cold — fetching letters — and 
friendship, were long under discussion ; and to them suc- 
ceeded one which must be at least equally unpleasant to Jane, 
— inquiries whether she had yet heard of any situation likely 
to suit her, and professions of Mrs. Elton's meditated activity. 

' Here is April come ! ' said she ; ' I get quite anxious about 
you. June will soon be here.' 

' But I have never fixed on June or any other month — 
merely looked forward to the summer in general.' 

' But have you really heard of nothing ? ' 

' I have not even made any inquiry ; I do not wish to make 
any yet.' 

' Oh, my dear, we cannot begin too early ; you are not 
aware of the difficulty of procuring exactly the desirable thing.' 

' I not aware ! ' said Jane, shaking her head ; ' dear Mrs. 
Elton, who can have thought of it as I have done ? ' 

' But you have not seen so much of the world as I have. 
You do not know how many candidates there always are for 
the first situations. I saw a vast deal of that in the neigh- 
bourhood round Maple Grove. A cousin of Mr. Suckling, 
Mrs. Bragge, had such an infinity of applications ; everybody 
was anxious to be in her family, for she moves in the first 
circle. Wax-candles in the school-room ! You may imagine 
how desirable ! Of all houses in the kingdom, Mrs. Bragge's 
is the one I would most wish to see you in.' 

' Colonel and Mrs. Campbell are to be in town again by 
268 



EMMA 

midsummer,' said Jane. ' I must spend some time with them; 
I am sure they will want it ; — afterwards I may probably be 
glad to dispose of myself. But I would not wish you to take 
the trouble of making any inquiries at present.' 

' Trouble ! ay, I know your scruples. You are afraid of 
giving me trouble ; but I assure you, my dear Jane, the 
Campbells can hardly be more interested about you than I am. 
I shall write to Mrs. Partridge in a day or two, and shall give 
her a strict charge to be on the look-out for anything eligible,' 

' Thank you, but I would rather you did not mention the 
subject to her ; till the time draws nearer, I do not wish to be 
giving anybody trouble,' 

' But, my dear child, the time is drawing near ; here is 
April, and June, or say even July, is very near, with such 
business to accomplish before us. Your inexperience really 
amuses me ! A situation such as you deserve, and your 
friends would require for you, is no everyday occurrence, is 
not obtained at a moment's notice ; indeed, indeed, we must 
begin inquiring directly.' 

' Excuse me, ma'am, but this is by no means my intention ; 
I make no inquiry myself, and should be sorry to have any 
made by my friends. When I am quite determined as to the 
time, I am not at all afraid of being long unemployed. There 
are places in town, offices, where inquiry would soon produce 
something — offices for the sale, not quite of human flesh, but 
of human intellect.' 

* Oh, my dear, human flesh ! You quite shock me ; if you 
mean a fling at the slave-trade, I assure you Mr. Suckling was 
always rather a friend to the abolition.' 

' I did not mean, I was not thinking of the slave-trade,' 
replied Jane ; * governess-trade, I assure you, was all that I 
had in view ; widely different certainly as to the guilt of those 
who carry it on ; but as to the greater misery of the victims, I 
do not know where it lies. But I only mean to say that there 
are advertising offices, and that by applying to them I should 
have no doubt of very soon meeting with something that 
would do.' 

' Something that would do ! ' repeated Mrs, Elton. * Ay, 
thai may suit your humble ideas of yourself ; — I know what a 
modest creature you are ; but it will not satisfy your friends to 
have you taking up with anything that may offer, any inferior 

269 



EMMA 

commonplace situation, in a family not moving in a certain 
circle, or able to command the elegancies of life.' 

' You are very obliging ; but as to all that I am very indif- 
ferent ; it would be no object to me to be with the rich ; my 
mortifications, I think, would only be the greater ; I should 
suffer more from comparison. A gentleman's family is all 
that I should condition for.' 

' I know you, I know you ; you would take up with any- 
thing ; but I shall be a little more nice, and I am sure the 
good Campbells will be quite on my side ; with your superior 
talents, you have a right to move in the first circle. Your 
musical knowledge alone would entitle you to name your own 
terms, have as many rooms as you like, and mix in the family 
as much as you chose ; — that is — I do not know — if you knew 
the harp, you might do all that, I am very sure ; but you sing 
as well as play ; — yes, I really believe you might, even without 
the harp, stipulate for what you chose ; — and you must and 
shall be delightfully, honourably and comfortably settled before 
the Campbells or I have any rest.' 

' You may well class the delight, the honour, and the com- 
fort of such a situation together,' said Jane, ' they are pretty 
sure to be equal ; however, I am very serious in not wishing 
anything to be attempted at present for me. I am exceedingly 
obliged to you, Mrs. Elton, I am obliged to anybody who feels 
for me, but I am quite serious in wishing nothing to be done 
till the summer. For two or three months longer I shall 
remain where I am, and as I am.' 

*And I am quite serious too, I assure you,' replied Mrs. 
Elton gaily, ' in resolving to be always on the watch, and em- 
ploying my friends to watch also, that nothing really unex- 
ceptionable may pass us.' 

In this style she ran on ; never thoroughly stopped by any- 
thing till Mr. Woodhouse came into the room ; her vanity had 
then a change of object, and Emma heard her saying in the 
same half-whisper to Jane — 

' Here comes this dear old beaU of mine, I protest ! — Only 
think of his gallantry in coming away before the other men ! — 
what a dear creature he is ! — I assure you I like him excess- 
ively. I admire all that quaint, old-fashioned politeness ; it is 
much more to my taste than modern ease ; modern ease often 
disgusts me. But this good old Mr. Woodhouse, I wish you 

270 



EMMA 

had heard his gallant speeches to me at dinner. Oh, I assure 
you I began to think my caro sposo would be absolutely 
jealous. I fancy I am rather a favourite ; he took notice of 
my gown. How do you like it ? Selina's choice — handsome, 
I think, but I do not know whether it is not over-trimmed ; I 
have the greatest dislike to the idea of being over-trimmed — 
quite a horror of finery. I must put on a few ornaments now^ 
because it is expected of me. A bride, you know, must appear 
like a bride, but my natural taste is all for simplicity ; a simple 
style of dress is so infinitely preferable to finery. But I am 
quite in the minority, I believe ; few people seem to value 
simplicity of dress, — show and finery are everything. I have 
some notion of putting such a trimming as this to my white 
and silver poplin. Do you think it will look well ? ' 

The whole party were but just re-assembled in the drawing- 
room when Mr. Weston made his appearance among them. 
He had returned to a late dinner, and walked to Hartfield as 
soon as it was over. He had been too much expected by 
the best judges, for surprise — but there was great joy. Mr. 
Woodhouse was almost as glad to see him now, as he would 
have been sorry to see him before. John Knightley only was 
in mute astonishment. That a man who might have spent 
his evening quietly at home after a day of business in London, 
should set off again, and walk half-a-mile to another man's 
house, for the sake of being in mixed company till bed-time, of 
finishing his day in the efforts of civility and the noise of 
numbers, was a circumstance to strike him deeply. A man 
who had been in motion since eight o'clock in the morning, 
and might now have been still, — who had been long talking, 
and might have been silent, — who had been in more than one 
crowd, and might have been alone ! — Such a man, to quit the 
tranquillity and independence of his own fireside, and on the 
evening of a cold sleety April day rush out again into the 
world ! — Could he, by a touch of his finger, have instantly 
taken back his wife, there would have been a motive ; but his 
coming would probably prolong rather than break up the party. 
John Kinghtley looked at him with amazement, then shrugged 
his shoulders, and said, ' I could not have believed it even of 

Mr. Weston meanwhile, perfectly unsuspicious of the 
indignation he was exciting, happy and cheerful as usual, and 

271 



EMMA 

with all the right of being principal talker, which a day spent 
anywhere from home confers, was making himself agreeable 
among the rest ; and having satisfied the inquiries of his wife 
as to his dinner, convincing her that none of all her careful 
directions to the servants had been forgotten, and spread 
abroad what public news he had heard, was proceeding to a 
family communication, which, though principally addressed to 
Mrs. Weston, he had not the smallest doubt of being highly 
interesting to everybody in the room. He gave her a letter — 
it was from Frank, and to herself; he had met with it in his 
way, and had taken the liberty of opening it. 

' Read it, read it,' said he, — ' it will give you pleasure ; only 
a few lines — will not take you long ; read it to Emma.' 

The two ladies looked over it together ; and he sat smiling 
and talking to them the whole time, in a voice a Httle 
subdued, but very audible to everybody. 

' Well, he is coming, you see ; good news, I think. Well, 
what do you say to it } I always told you he would be here 
again soon, did not I ? Anne, my dear, did not I always tell 
you so, and you would not believe me } In town next week, 
you see — at the latest, I daresay ; for she is as impatient as 
the black gentleman when anything is to be done ; most 
likely they will be there to-morrow or Saturday. As to her 
illness, all nothing, of course. But it is an excellent thing to 
have Frank among us again, so near as town. They will 
stay a good while when they do come, and he will be half his 
time with us. This is precisely what I wanted. Well, pretty 
good news, is not it ? Have you finished it ? Has Emma 
read it all ? Put it up, put it up ; we will have a good talk 
about it some other time, but it will not do now. I shall 
only just mention the circumstance to the others in a common 
way.' 

Mrs. Weston was most comfortably pleased on the occasion. 
Her looks and words had nothing to restrain them. She was 
happy, she knew she was happy, and knew she ought to be 
happy. Her congratulations were warm and open ; but 
Emma could not speak so fluently. She was a little occupied 
in weighing her own feelings, and trying to understand the 
degree of her agitation, which she rather thought was 
considerable. 

Mr. Weston, however, too eager to be very observant, too 
272 



EMMA 

communicative to want others to talk, was very well satisfied 
with what she did say, and soon moved away to make the rest 
of his friends happy by a partial communication of what the 
whole room must have overheard already. 

It was well that he took everybody's joy for granted, or 
he might not have thought either Mr. Woodhouse or Mr. 
Knightley particularly delighted. They were the first entitled, 
after Mrs. Weston and Emma, to be made happy. From 
them he would have proceeded to Miss Fairfax ; but she was 
so deep in conversation with John Knightley, that it would 
have been too positive an interruption ; and, finding himself 
close to Mrs. Elton, and her attention disengaged, he neces- 
sarily began on the subject with her. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

* I HOPE I shall soon have the pleasure of introducing my son 
to you,' said Mr. Weston. 

Mrs. Elton, very willing to suppose a particular compliment 
intended her by such a hope, smiled most graciously. 

' You have heard of a certain Frank Churchill, I presume,' 
he continued, ' and know him to be my son, though he does 
not bear my name.' 

*Oh yes, and I shall be very happy in his acquaintance. 
I am sure Mr. Elton will lose no time in calling on him ; and 
we shall both have great pleasure in seeing him at the 
Vicarage.' 

* You are very obliging. Frank will be extremely happy, 
I am sure. He is to be in town next week, if not sooner. 
We have notice of it in a letter to-day. I met the letters in 
my way this morning, and seeing my son's hand, presumed to 
open it, though it was not directed to me — it was to Mrs. 
Weston. She is his principal correspondent, I assure you. I 
hardly ever get a letter.' 

' And so you absolutely opened what was directed to her ! 
Oh, Mr. Weston (laughing affectedly), I must protest against 
that. A most dangerous precedent indeed ! I beg you will 
not let your neighbours follow your example. Upon my word, 
if this is what I am to expect, we married women must begin 
T 273 



EMMA 

to exert ourselves. Oh, Mr. Weston, I could not have 
believed it of you ! ' 

' Ay, we men are sad fellows. You must take care of 
yourself, Mrs. Elton. This letter tells us — it is a short letter 
— written in a hurry, merely to give us notice : it tells us that 
they are all coming up to town directly, on Mrs. Churchill's 
account : she has not been well the whole winter, and thinks 
Enscombe too cold for her ; so they are all to move south- 
ward without loss of time.' 

* Indeed ! from Yorkshire, I think. Enscombe is in 
Yorkshire ? ' 

' Yes, they are about 1 90 miles from London : a consider- 
able journey.' 

' Yes, upon my word, very considerable. Sixty-five miles 
farther than from Maple Grove to London. But what is dis- 
tance, Mr. Weston, to people of large fortune ? You would be 
amazed to hear how my brother, Mr. Suckling, sometimes flies 
about. You will hardly believe me, but twice in one week he 
and Mr. Bragge went to London and back again with four 
horses.' 

' The evil of the distance from Enscombe,' said Mr. Weston, 
' is, that Mrs. Churchill, as we understand, has not been able 
to leave the sofa for a week together. In Frank's last letter 
she complained, he said, of being too weak to get into her 
conservatory without having both his arm and his uncle's. 
This, you know, speaks a great degree of weakness ; but now 
she is so impatient to be in town, that she means to sleep only 
two nights on the road — so Frank writes word. Certainly, 
delicate ladies have very extraordinary constitutions, Mrs. 
Elton ; you must grant me that' 

' No, indeed, I shall grant you nothing. I always take 
the part of my own sex ; I do indeed. I give you notice, you 
will find me a formidable antagonist on that point. I always 
stand up for women ; and I assure you, if you knew how 
Selina feels with respect to sleeping at an inn, you would not 
wonder at Mrs. Churchill's making incredible exertions to 
avoid it. Selina says it is quite horror to her ; and I believe 
I have caught a little of her nicety. She always travels with 
her own sheets ; an excellent precaution. Does Mrs. Churchill 
do the same ? ' 

' Depend upon it, Mrs. Churchill does everything that any 
274 




How my brother, Mr. Sucklings sometimes flies about.' 



EMMA 

other fine lady ever did. Mrs. Churchill will not be second 

to any lady in the land for ' 

Mrs. Elton eagerly interposed with — 

* Oh, Mr. Weston, do not mistake me. Selina is no fine 
lady, I assure you. Do not run away with such an idea.' 

' Is not she .'* Then she is no rule for Mrs. Churchill, who 
is as thorough a fine lady as anybody ever beheld.' 

Mrs. Elton began to think she had been wrong in dis- 
claiming so warmly. It was by no means her object to have 
it believed that her sister was not a fine lady ; perhaps there 
was want of spirit in the pretence of it ; and she was consider- 
ing in what way she had best retract, when Mr. Weston 
went on. 

* Mrs. Churchill is not much in my good graces, as you 
may suspect ; but this is quite between ourselves. She is very 
fond of Frank, and therefore I would not speak ill of her. 
Besides, she is out of health now ; but that indeed, by her 
own account, she has always been. I would not say so to 
everybody, Mrs. Elton ; but I have not much faith in Mrs. 
Churchill's illness.' 

' If she is really ill, why not go to Bath, Mr. Weston ? To 
Bath, or to Clifton ? ' 

* She has taken it into her head that Enscombe is too cold 
for her. The fact is, I suppose, that she is tired of Enscombe. 
She has now been a longer time stationary there than she ever 
was before, and she begins to want change. It is a retired 
place. A fine place, but very retired.' 

'Ay — like Maple Grove, I daresay. Nothing can stand 
more retired from the road than Maple Grove. Such an 
immense plantation all round it ! You seem shut out from 
everything — in the most complete retirement. And Mrs. 
Churchill probably has not health or spirits like Selina to enjoy 
that sort of seclusion. Or, perhaps she may not have resources 
enough in herself to be qualified for a country life. I always 
say a woman cannot have too many resources — and I feel 
very thankful that I have so many myself as to be quite 
independent of society.' 

' Frank was here in February for a fortnight.' 
' So I remember to have heard. He will find an addition 
to the society of Highbury when he comes again ; that is, if I 
may presume to call myself an addition. But perhaps he 

276 



i 



EMMA 

may never have heard of there being such a creature in the ' 
world.' 

This was too loud a call for a compliment to be passed by, 
and Mr. Weston, with a very good grace, immediately ex- 
claimed — 

' My dear madam ! Nobody but yourself could imagine 
such a thing possible. Not heard of you ! I believe Mrs. 
Weston's letters lately have been full of very little else than 
Mrs. Elton.' 

He had done his duty, and could return to his son. 

' When Frank left us,' continued he, ' it was quite uncertain 
when we might see him again, which makes this day's news 
doubly welcome. It has been completely unexpected. That 
is, / always had a strong persuasion he would be here again 
soon ; I was sure something favourable would turn up — but 
nobody believed me. He and Mrs. Weston were both dread- 
fully desponding. " How could he contrive to come ? And 
how could it be supposed that his uncle and aunt would spare 
him again ? " and so forth. I always felt that something 
would happen in our favour ; and so it has, you see. I have 
observed, Mrs. Elton, in the course of my life, that if things 
are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend the 
next.' 

' Very true, Mr. Weston, perfectly true. It is just what I 
used to say to a certain gentleman in company in the days of 
courtship, when, because things did not go quite right — did 
not proceed with all the rapidity which suited his feelings — he 
was apt to be in despair, and exclaim that he was sure at this 
rate it would be May before Hymen's saffron robe would be 
put on for us ! Oh ! the pains I have been at to dispel those 
gloomy ideas, and give him cheerfuller views ! The carriage 
— we had disappointments about the carriage — one morning, 
I remember, he came to me quite in despair.' 

She was stopped by a slight fit of coughing, and Mr. 
Weston instantly seized the opportunity of going on. 

' You were mentioning May. May is the very month 
which Mrs. Churchill is ordered, or has ordered herself, to 
spend in some warmer place than Enscombe — in short, to 
spend in London ; so that we have the agreeable prospect of 
frequent visits from Frank the whole spring — precisely the 
season of the year which one should have chosen for it : days 

277 



EMMA 

almost at the longest ; weather genial and pleasant, always 
inviting one out, and never too hot for exercise. When he 
was here before, we made the best of it ; but there was a good 
deal of wet, damp, cheerless weather ; there always is in 
February, you know ; and we could not do half that we in- 
tended. Now will be the time. This will be complete enjoy- 
ment ; and I do not know, Mrs. Elton, whether the uncertainty 
of our meetings, the sort of constant expectation there will be 
of his coming in to-day or to-morrow, and at any hour, may 
not be more friendly to happiness than having him actually in 
the house. I think it is so. I think it is the state of mind 
which gives most spirit and delight. I hope you will be 
pleased with my son ; but you must not expect a prodigy. 
He is generally thought a fine young man, but do not expect 
a prodigy. Mrs. Weston's partiality for him is very great, 
and, as you may suppose, most gratifying to me. She thinks 
nobody equal to him.' 

' And I assure you, Mr. Weston, I have very little doubt 
that my opinion will be decidedly in his favour. I have 
heard so much in praise of Mr. Frank Churchill. At the 
same time it is fair to observe, that I am one of those who 
always judge for themselves, and are by no means implicitly 
guided by others. I give you notice, that as I find your son, 
so I shall judge of him. I am no flatterer.' 

Mr. Weston was musing. 

* I hope,' said he presently, ' I have not been severe upon 
poor Mrs. Churchill. If she is ill, I should be sorry to do her 
injustice ; but there are some traits in her character which 
make it difficult for me to speak of her with the forbearance I 
could wish. You cannot be ignorant, Mrs. Elton, of my 
connection with the family, nor of the treatment I have met 
with ; and, between ourselves, the whole blame of it is to be 
laid to her. She was the instigator. Frank's mother would 
never have been slighted as she was but for her. Mr. Churchill 
has pride ; but his pride is nothing to his wife's ; his is a quiet, 
indolent, gentlemanlike sort of pride, that would harm nobody 
and only make himself a little helpless and tiresome ; but her 
pride is arrogance and insolence. And what inclines one less 
to bear, she has no fair pretence of family or blood. She was 
nobody when he married her, barely the daughter of a gentle- 
man ; but ever since her being turned into a Churchill, she 

278 



EMMA 

has out-Churchill'd them all in high and mighty claims : but 
in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart.' 

' Only think ! well, that must be infinitely provoking ! I 
have quite a horror of upstarts. Maple Grove has given me a 
thorough disgust to people of that sort ; for there is a family 
in that neighbourhood who are such an annoyance to my 
brother and sister from the airs they give themselves ! Your 
description of Mrs. Churchill made me think of them directly. 
People of the name of Tupman, very lately settled there, and 
encumbered with many low connections, but giving themselves 
immense airs, and expecting to be on a footing with the old 
established families. A year and a half is the very utmost 
that they can have lived at West Hall ; and how they got 
their fortune nobody knows. They came from Birmingham, 
which is not a place to promise much, you know, Mr. Weston. 
One has not great hopes from Birmingham. I always say 
there is something direful in the sound : but nothing more is 
positively known of the Tupmans, though a good many things, 
I assure you, are suspected ; and yet by their manners they 
evidently think themselves equal even to my brother, Mr. 
Suckling, who happens to be one of their nearest neighbours. 
It is infinitely too bad. Mr. Suckling, who has been eleven 
years a resident at Maple Grove, and whose father had it 
before him — I believe, at least — I am almost sure that old 
Mr. Suckling had completed the purchase before his death.' 

They were interrupted. Tea was carrying round, and Mr. 
Weston, having said all that he wanted, soon took the oppor- 
tunity of walking away. 

After tea, Mr. and Mrs. Weston, and Mr. Elton, sat down 
with Mr. Woodhouse to cards. The remaining five were left 
to their own powers, and Emma doubted their getting on very 
well ; for Mr. Knightley seemed little disposed for conversa- 
tion ; Mrs. Elton was wanting notice, which nobody had 
inclination to pay, and she was herself in a worry of spirits 
which would have made her prefer being silent. 

Mr. John Knightley proved more talkative than his brother. 
He was to leave them early the next day ; and he soon began 
with — 

' Well, Emma, 1 do not believe I have anything more to say 
about the boys ; but you have your sister's letter, and every- 
thing is down at full length there we may be sure. My charge 

279 



EMMA 

would be much more concise than hers, and probably not 
much in the same spirit ; all that I have to recommend being 
comprised in — Do not spoil them, and do not physic them.' 

' I rather hope to satisfy you both,' said Emma ; ' for I 
shall do all in my power to make them happy, which will be 
enough for Isabella ; and happiness must preclude false in- 
dulgence and physic' 

'And if you find them troublesome, you must send them 
home again.' 

* That is very likely. You think so, do not you ? ' 

* I hope I am aware that they may be too noisy for your 
father ; or even may be some incumbrance to you, if your visit- 
ing engagements continue to increase as much as they have 
done lately.' 

' Increase ! ' 

' Certainly ; you must be sensible that the last half-year has 
made a great difference in your way of life.' 

' Difference ! No, indeed I am not' 

' There can be no doubt of your being much more engaged 
with company than you used to be. Witness this very time. 
Here am I come down for only one day, and you are engaged 
with a dinner party ! When did it happen before .'' or any- 
thing like it ? Your neighbourhood is increasing, and you 
mix more with it. A little while ago, every letter to Isabella 
brought an account of fresh gaieties ; dinners at Mr. Cole's, or 
balls at the Crown. The difference which Randalls, Randalls 
alone, makes in your goings-on is very great.' 

* Yes,' said his brother quickly ; ' it is Randalls that does 
it all.' 

' Very well ; and as Randalls, I suppose, is not likely to 
have less influence than heretofore, it strikes me as a possible 
thing, Emma, that Henry and John may be sometimes in the 
way. And if they are, I only beg you to send them home.' 

'No,' cried Mr. Knightley ; 'that need not be the conse- 
quence. Let them be sent to Donwell. I shall certainly be 
at leisure.' 

'Upon my word,' exclaimed Emma, 'you amuse me! I 
should like to know how many of all my numerous engage- 
ments take place without your being of the party ; and why I 
am to be supposed in danger of wanting leisure to attend to 
the little boys. These amazing engagements of mine — what 

280 



EMMA 

have they been ? Dining once with the Coles, and having a 
ball talked of, which never took place. I can understand you 
— (nodding at Mr. John Knightley) — your good fortune in 
meeting with so many of your friends at once here delights 
you too much to pass unnoticed. — But you (turning to Mr. 
Knightley), who know how very, very seldom I am ever two 
hours from Hartfield — why you should foresee such a series of 
dissipation for me, I cannot imagine. And as to my dear 
little boys, I must say, that if aunt Emma has not time for 
them, 1 do not think they would fare much better with uncle 
Knightley, who is absent from home about five hours where 
she is absent one ; and who, when he is at home, is either 
reading to himself or settling his accounts.' 

Mr. Knightley seemed to be trying not to smile ; and 
succeeded without difficulty, upon Mrs. Elton's beginning to 
talk to him. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

A VERY little quiet reflection was enough to satisfy Emma as 
to the nature of her agitation on hearing this news of Frank 
Churchill. She was soon convinced that it was not for herself 
she was feeling at all apprehensive or embarrassed — it was for 
him. Her own attachment had really subsided into a mere 
nothing — it was not worth thinking of ; but if he, who had un- 
doubtedly been always so much the more in love of the two, 
were to be returning with the same warmth of sentiment which 
he had taken away, it would be very distressing. If a separation 
of two months should not have cooled him, there were dangers 
and evils before her : caution for him and for herself would be 
necessary. She did not mean to have her own affections 
entangled again, and it would be incumbent on her to avoid 
any encouragement of his. 

She wished she might be able to keep him from an absolute 
declaration. That would be so very painful a conclusion of 
their present acquaintance ; and yet, she could not help rather 
anticipating something decisive. She felt as if the spring 
would not pass without bringing a crisis, an event, a something 
to alter her present composed and tranquil state. 

281 



EMMA 

It was not very long, though rather longer than Mr. Weston 
had foreseen, before she had the power of forming some opinion 
of Frank Churchill's feelings. The Enscombe family were 
not in town quite so soon as had been imagined, but he was 
at Highbury very soon afterwards. He rode down for a 
couple of hours ; he could not yet do more ; but as he came 
from Randalls immediately to Hartfield, she could then exercise 
all her quick observation, and speedily determine how he was 
influenced, and how she must act. They met with the utmost 
friendliness. There could be no doubt of his great pleasure 
in seeing her. But she had an almost instant doubt of his 
caring for her as he had done, of his feeling the same tender- 
ness in the same degree. She watched him well. It was a 
clear thing he was less in love than he had been. Absence, 
with the conviction probably of her indifference, had produced 
this very natural and very desirable effect. 

He was in high spirits ; as ready to talk and laugh as ever ; 
and seemed dehghted to speak of his former visit, and recur 
to old stories ; and he was not without agitation. It was not 
in his calmness that she read his comparative indifference. 
He was not calm ; his spirits were evidently fluttered ; there 
was restlessness about him. Lively as he was, it seemed a 
liveliness that did not satisfy himself : but what decided her 
belief on the subject, was his staying only a quarter of an hour, 
and hurrying away to make other calls in Highbury. ' He 
had seen a group of old acquaintance in the street as he passed 
— he had not stopped, he would not stop for more than a 
word — but he had the vanity to think they would be disap- 
pointed if he did not call ; and, much as he wished to stay 
longer at Hartfield he must hurry off.' 

She had no doubt as to his being less in love, but neither 
his agitated spirits nor his hurrying away seemed like a perfect 
cure ; and she was rather inclined to think it implied a dread 
of her returning power, and a discreet resolution of not tiTist- 
ing himself with her long. 

This was the only visit from Frank Churchill in the course 
of ten days. He was often hoping, intending, to come ; but 
was always prevented. His aunt could not bear to have him 
leave her. Such was his own account at Randalls. If he 
were quite sincere, if he really tried to come, it was to be in- 
ferred that Mrs. Churchill's removal to London had been of no 

282 



1 



EMMA 

service to the wilful or nervous part of her disorder. That 
she was really ill was very certain ; he had declared himself 
convinced of it at Randalls. Though much might be fancy, 
he could not doubt, when he looked back, that she was in a 
weaker state of health than she had been half a year ago. 
He did not believe it to proceed from anything that care and 
medicine might not remove, or at least that she might not 
have many years of existence before her ; but he could not be 
prevailed on, by all his father's doubts, to say that her com- 
plaints were merely imaginary, or that she was as strong as ever. 

It soon appeared that London was not the place for her. 
She could not endure its noise. Her nerves were under 
continual irritation and suffering ; and by the ten days' end, 
her nephew's letter to Randalls communicated a change of 
plan. They were going to remove immediately to Richmond. 
Mrs. Churchill had been recommended to the medical skill of 
an eminent person there, and had otherwise a fancy for the 
place. A ready-furnished house in a favourite spot was 
engaged, and much benefit expected from the change. 

Emma heard that Frank wrote in the highest spirits of this 
arrangement, and seemed most fully to appreciate the blessing 
of having two months before him of such near neighbourhood 
to many dear friends ; for the house was taken for May and 
June. She was told that now he wrote with the greatest con- 
fidence of being often with them, almost as often as he could 
even wish. 

Emma saw how Mr. Weston understood these joyous 
prospects. He was considering her as the source of all the 
happiness they offered. She hoped it was not so. Two 
months must bring it to proof. 

Mr. Weston's own happiness was indisputable. He was 
quite delighted. It was the very circumstance he could have 
wished for. Now, it would be really having Frank in their 
neighbourhood. What were nine miles to a young man ? — 
An hour's ride. He would be always coming over. The 
difference in that respect of Richmond and London was 
enough to make the whole difference of seeing him always 
and seeing him never. Sixteen miles — nay, eighteen — it 
must be full eighteen to Manchester Street — was a serious 
obstacle. Were he ever able to get away, the day would be 
spent in coming and returning. There was no comfort in 

283 



EMMA 

having him in London ; he might as well be at Enscombe ; 
but Richmond was the very distance for easy intercourse. 
Better than nearer ! 

One good thing was immediately brought to a certainty by 
this removal, — the ball at the Crown. It had not been for- 
gotten before ; but it had been soon acknowledged vain to 
attempt to fix a day. Now, however, it was absolutely to be ; 
every preparation was resumed ; and very soon after the 
Churchills had removed to Richmond, a few lines from Frank, 
to say that his aunt felt already much better for the change, 
and that he had no doubt of being able to join them for 
twenty-four hours at any given time, induced them to name 
as early a day as possible. 

Mr. Weston's ball was to be a real thing. A very few 
to-morrows stood between the young people of Highbury and 
happiness. 

Mr. Woodhouse was resigned. The time of year lightened 
the evil to him. May was better for everything than February. 
Mrs. Bates was engaged to spend the evening at Hartfield ; 
James had due notice, and he sanguinely hoped that neither 
dear little Henry nor dear little John would have anything the 
matter with them while dear Emma was gone. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

No misfortune occurred again to prevent the ball. The day 
approached, the day arrived ; and, after a morning of some 
anxious watching, Frank Churchill, in all the certainty of his 
own self, reached Randalls before dinner, and everything was 
safe. 

No second meeting had there yet been between him and 
Emma. The room at the Crown was to witness it ; but it 
would be better than a common meeting in a crowd. Mr. 
Weston had been so very earnest in his entreaties for her 
early attendance, for her arriving there as soon as possible 
after themselves, for the purpose of taking her opinion as to 
the propriety and comfort of the rooms before any other person 
came, that she could not refuse him, and must therefore spend 

284 



EMMA 

some quiet interval in the young man's company. She was to 
convey Harriet, and they drove to the Crown in good time, the 
Randalls party just sufficiently before them. 

Frank Churchill seemed to have been on the watch ; and 
though he did not say much, his eyes declared that he meant 
to have a delightful evening. They all walked about together, 
to see that everything was as it should be ; and within a few 
minutes were joined by the contents of another carriage, which 
Emma could not hear the sound of at first without great 
surprise. * So unreasonably early ! ' she was going to exclaim ; 
but she presently found that it was a family of old friends, 
who were coming, like herself, by particular desire, to help 
Mr. Weston's judgment ; and they were so very closely followed 
by another carriage of cousins, who had been entreated to come 
early with the same distinguishing earnestness, on the same 
errand, that it seemed as if half the company might soon be 
collected together for the purpose of preparatory inspection. 

Emma perceived that her taste was not the only taste on 
which Mr. Weston depended, and felt, that to be the favourite 
and intimate of a man who had so many intimates and con- 
fidants, was not the very first distinction in the scale of vanity. 
She liked his open manners, but a little less of open-heartedness 
would have made him a higher character. — General benevo- 
lence, but not general friendship, made a man what he ought 
to be. — She could fancy such a man. 

The whole party walked about, and looked, and praised 
again ; and then, having nothing else to do, formed a sort of 
half-circle round the fire, to observe in their various modes, 
till other subjects were started, that, though May^ a fire in the 
evening was still very pleasant. 

Emma found that it was not Mr. Weston's fault that the 
number of privy counsellors was not yet larger. They had 
stopped at Mrs. Bates's door to offer the use of their carriage, 
but the aunt and niece were to be brought by the Eltons. 

Frank was standing by her, but not steadily ; there was 
a restlessness, which showed a mind not at ease. He was 
looking about, he was going to the door, he was watching for 
the sound of other carriages, — impatient to begin, or afraid of 
being always near her. 

Mrs. Elton was spoken of. ' I think she must be here 
soon,' said he, * I have a great curiosity to see Mrs. Elton, 

=>8S 



EMMA 

I have heard so much of her. It cannot be long, I think, 
before she comes.' 

A carriage was heard. He was on the move immediately ; 
but coming back, said — 

' I am forgetting that I am not acquainted with her. I 
have never seen either Mr. or Mrs. Elton. I have no business 
to put myself forward.' 

Mr. and Mrs. Elton appeared ; and all the smiles and the 
proprieties passed. 

' But Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax ! ' said Mr. Weston, 
looking about. ' We thought you were to bring them.' 

The mistake had been slight. The carriage was sent for 
them now. Emma longed to know what Frank's first opinion 
of Mrs. Elton might be ; how he was affected by the studied 
elegance of her dress, and her smiles of graciousness. He 
was immediately qualifying himself to form an opinion, by 
giving her very proper attention, after the introduction had 
passed. 

In a few minutes the carriage returned. — Somebody talked 
of rain. — ' I will see that there are umbrellas, sir,' said Frank to 
his father : ' Miss Bates must not be forgotten ' : and away he 
went. Mr. Weston was following ; but Mrs. Elton detained 
him, to gratify him by her opinion of his son ; and so briskly 
did she begin, that the young man himself, though by no 
means moving slowly, could hardly be out of hearing. 

' A very fine young man, indeed^ Mr. Weston. You know 
I candidly told you I should form my own opinion ; and I 
am happy to say that I am extremely pleased with him. You 
may believe me. I never compliment. I think him a very 
handsome young man, and his manners are precisely what 
I like and approve, — so truly the gentleman, without the 
least conceit or puppyism. You must know I have a vast 
dislike to puppies — quite a horror of them. They were 
never tolerated at Maple Grove. Neither Mr. Suckling nor 
me had ever any patience with them ; and we used sometimes 
to say very cutting things. SeUna, who is mild almost to a 
fault, bore with them much better.' 

While she talked of his son, Mr. Weston's attention was 
chained ; but when she got to Maple Grove, he could recol- 
lect that there were ladies just arriving to be attended to, 
and with happy smiles must hurry away. 

286 



EMMA 

Mrs. Elton turned to Mrs. Weston. ' I have no doubt of 
its being our carriage with Miss Bates and Jane. Our coach- 
man and horses are so extremely expeditious ! I believe we 
drive faster than anybody. What a pleasure it is to send one's 
carriage for a friend ! I understand you were so kind as to 
offer, but another time it will be quite unnecessary. You may 
be very sure I shall always take care of theni.^ 

Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax, escorted by the two gentle- 
men, walked into the room ; and Mrs. Elton seemed to think 
it as much her duty as Mrs. Weston's to receive them. Her 
gestures and movements might be understood by any one who 
looked on like Emma ; but her words, everybody's words, 
were soon lost under the incessant flow of Miss Bates, who 
came in talking, and had not finished her speech under many 
minutes after her being admitted into the circle at the fire. 
As the door opened she was heard — 

' So very obliging of you ! — No rain at all. Nothing to 
signify. I do not care for myself. Quite thick shoes. And 
Jane declares — Well ! (as soon as she was within the door), 
well ! This is brilliant indeed ! This is admirable ! Excel- 
lently contrived, upon my word. Nothing wanting. Could 
not have imagined it. So well lighted up ! Jane, Jane, look ! 
did you ever see anything ? Oh, Mr. Weston, you must 
really have had Aladdin's lamp. Good Mrs. Stokes would 
not know her own room again. I saw her as I came in ; she 
was standing in the entrance. " Oh, Mrs. Stokes," said I — 
but I had not time for more.' She was now met by Mrs. 
Weston. ' Very well, I thank you, ma'am. I hope you are 
quite well. Very happy to hear it. So afraid you might have 
a headache ! seeing you pass by so often, and knowing how 
much trouble you must have. Delighted to hear it indeed. — 
Ah ! dear Mrs. Elton, so obliged to you for the carriage ; 
excellent time ; Jane and I quite ready. Did not keep the 
horses a moment. Most comfortable carriage. Oh ! and I 
am sure our thanks are due to you, Mrs. Weston, on that 
score. Mrs. Elton had most kindly sent Jane a note, or we 
should have been. But two such offers in one day ! Never 
were such neighbours. I said to my mother, " Upon my 
word, ma'am." Thank you, my mother is remarkably well. 
Gone to Mr. Woodhouse's. I made her take her shawl, — for 
the evenings are not warm, — her large new shawl, Mrs. Dixon's 

287 




Well! This is brilliant indeed I ' 



EMMA 

wedding present. So kind of her to think of my mother ! 
Bought at Weymouth, you know ; Mr. Dixon's choice. There 
were three others, Jane says, which they hesitated about some 
time. Colonel Campbell rather preferred an olive. — My dear 
Jane, are you sure you did not wet your feet? It was but a 
drop or two, but I am so afraid : but Mr. Frank Churchill was 
so extremely — and there was a mat to step upon. I shall 
never forget his extreme politeness. Oh, Mr. Frank Church- 
hill, I must tell you my mother's spectacles have never been 
in fault since ; the rivet never came out again. My mother 
often talks of your good-nature : does not she, Jane ? Do not 
we often talk of Mr. Frank Churchill ? Ah ! here's Miss 
Woodhouse. Dear Miss Woodhouse, how do you do ? Very 
well I thank you, quite well. This is meeting quite in fairy- 
land. Such a transformation. Must not compliment, I know 
(eyeing Emma most complacently) — that would be rude ; but 
upon my word. Miss Woodhouse, you do look — how do you 
like Jane's hair .'' You are a judge. She did it all herself. 
Quite wonderful how she does her hair ! No hairdresser from 
London, I think, could. — Ah ! Dr. Hughes, I declare — and Mrs. 
Hughes. Must go and speak to Dr. and Mrs. Hughes for a 
moment. How do you do ? How do you do ? Very well, I 
thank you. This is delightful, is not it ? Where's dear Mr. 
Richard ? Oh, there he is. Don't disturb him. Much 
better employed talking to the young ladies. How do you do, 
Mr. Richard ? I saw you the other day as you rode through 
the town. Mrs. Otway, I protest ! and good Mr. Otway, and 
Miss Otway, and Miss Caroline. Such a host of friends ! and 
Mr. George and Mr. Arthur ! How do you do ? How do 
you all do ? Quite well, I am much obliged to you. Never 
better. Don't I hear another carriage ? Who can this be ? 
— very likely the worthy Coles. Upon my word, this is 
charming, to be standing about among such friends ! And 
such a noble fire ! I am quite roasted. No coffee, I thank 
you, for me ; never take coffee. A little tea, if you please, 
sir, by and by, no hurry. Oh, here it comes. Everything 
so good ! ' 

Frank Churchill returned to his station by Emma ; and as 

soon as Miss Bates was quiet, she found herself necessarily 

overhearing the discourse of Mrs. Elton and Miss Fairfax, 

who were standing a little way behind her. He was thought- 

u 289 



EMMA 

ful. Whether he were overhearing too, she could not deter- 
mine. After a good many compliments to Jane on her dress 
and look, — compliments very quietly and properly taken, — 
Mrs. Elton was evidently wanting to be complimented herself 
— and it was, ' How do you like my gown ? — How do you like 
my trimming ? — How has Wright done my hair ? ' with many 
other relative questions, all answered with patient poHteness. 
Mrs. Elton then said — 

' Nobody can think less of dress in general than I do : but 
upon such an occasion as this, when everybody's eyes are so 
much upon me, and in compliment to the Westons, who I 
have no doubt are giving this ball chiefly to do me honour, — 
I would not wish to be inferior to others : and I see very few 
pearls in the room except mine. — So, Frank Churchill is a 
capital dancer, I understand. We shall see if our styles suit. 
— A fine young man certainly is Frank Churchill. I like him 
very well.' 

At this moment Frank began talking so vigorously that 
Emma could not but imagine he had overheard his own praises, 
and did not want to hear more ; — and the voices of the ladies 
were drowned for awhile, till another suspension brought Mrs. 
Elton's tones again distinctly forward. Mr. Elton had just 
joined them, and his wife was exclaiming — 

' Oh ! you have found us out at last, have you, in our 
seclusion ? — I was this moment telling Jane, I thought you 
would begin to be impatient for tidings of us.' 

' Jane ! ' repeated Frank Churchill with a look of surprise 
and displeasure. ' That is easy ; but Miss Fairfax does not 
disapprove it, I suppose.' 

' How do you like Mrs. Elton ? ' said Emma in a whisper. 

' Not at all.' 

' You are ungrateful.' 

* Ungrateful ! — What do you mean ? ' Then changing from 
a frown to a smile, — ' No, do not tell me, — I do not want to 
know what you mean. Where is my father ? When are we 
to begin dancing ? ' 

Emma could hardly understand him : he seemed in an odd 
humour. He walked ofif to find his father, but was quickly 
back again with both Mr. and Mrs. Weston. He had met with 
them in a little perplexity, which must be laid before Emma. 
It had just occurred to Mrs. Weston that Mrs. Elton must be 

290 



EMMA 

asked to begin the ball ; that she would expect it ; which 
interfered with all their wishes of giving Emma that distinction ; 
Emma heard the sad truth with fortitude. 

' And what are we to do for a proper partner for her ? ' said 
Mr. Weston. ' She will think Frank ought to ask her.' 

Frank turned instantly to Emma, to claim her former 
promise ; and boasted himself an engaged man, which his 
father looked his most perfect approbation of — and it then 
appeared that Mrs. Weston was wanting him to dance with 
Mrs. Elton himself, and that their business was to help to 
persuade him into it, which was done pretty soon. Mr. 
Weston and Mrs. Elton led the way ; Mr. Frank Churchill 
and Miss Woodhouse followed. Emma must submit to stand 
second to Mrs. Elton, though she had always considered the 
ball as peculiarly for her. It was almost enough to make her 
think of marrying. 

Mrs. Elton had undoubtedly the advantage, at this time, 
in vanity completely gratified ; for though she had intended 
to begin with Frank Churchill, she could not lose by the 
change. Mr. Weston might be his son's superior. In spite 
of this little rub, however, Emma was smiling with enjoyment, 
delighted to see the respectable length of the set as it was 
forming, and to feel that she had so many hours of unusual 
festivity before her. She was more disturbed by Mr. 
Knightley's not dancing, than by anything else. There he 
was, among the standers-by, where he ought not to be ; he 
ought to be dancing, — not classing himself with the husbands, 
and fathers, and whist-players, who were pretending to feel an 
interest in the dance till their rubbers were made up, — so 
young as he looked ! He could not have appeared to greater 
advantage perhaps anywhere, than where he had placed 
himself. His tall, firm, upright figure, among the bulky forms 
and stooping shoulders of the elderly men, was such as Emma 
felt must draw everybody's eyes ; and, excepting her own 
partner, there was not one among the whole row of young 
men who could be compared with him. He moved a few steps 
nearer, and those few steps were enough to prove in how 
gentlemanlike a manner, with what natural grace, he must 
have danced, would he but take the trouble. Whenever she 
caught his eye, she forced him to smile ; but in general he was 
looking grave. She wished he could love a ball-room better, 

291 




Among the bulky forms and stooping shoulders. 



EMMA 

and could like Frank Churchill better. He seemed often 
observing her. She must not flatter herself that he thought of 
her dancing ; but if he were criticising her behaviour, she did 
not feel afraid. There was nothing like flirtation between her 
and her partner. They seemed more like cheerful easy friends 
than lovers. That Frank Churchill thought less of her than 
he had done was indubitable. 

The ball proceeded pleasantly. The anxious cares, the 
incessant attentions, of Mrs. Weston were not thrown away. 
Everybody seemed happy ; and the praise of being a delight- 
ful ball, which is seldom bestowed till after a ball has ceased 
to be, was repeatedly given in the very beginning of the 
existence of this. Of very important, very recordable events, 
it was not more productive than such meetings usually are. 
There was one, however, which Emma thought something 
of. — The two last dances before supper were begun, and 
Harriet had no partner ; — the only young lady sitting down ; 
— and so equal had been hitherto the number of dancers, that 
how there could be any one disengaged was the wonder. But 
Emma's wonder lessened soon afterwards, on seeing Mr. 
Elton sauntering about. He would not ask Harriet to dance if 
it were possible to be avoided : she was sure he would not — 
and she was expecting him every moment to escape into the 
card-room. 

Escape, however, was not his plan. He came to the part 
of the room where the sitters -by were collected, spoke to 
some, and walked about in front of them, as if to show his 
liberty, and his resolution of maintaining it. He did not omit 
being sometimes directly before Miss Smith, or speaking to 
those who were close to her. Emma saw it. She was not 
yet dancing ; she was working her way up from the bottom, 
and had therefore leisure to look around, and by only turning 
her head a little she saw it all. When she was half-way up 
the set, the whole group were exactly behind her, and she 
would no longer allow her eyes to watch ; but Mr. Elton was 
so near, that she heard every syllable of a dialogue which just 
then took place between him and Mrs. Weston ; and she 
perceived that his wife, who was standing immediately above 
her, was not only listening also, but even encouraging him by 
significant glances. The kind-hearted, gentle Mrs. Weston 
had left her seat to join him and say, * Do not you dance, Mr. 

293 



EMMA 

Elton ? ' to which his prompt reply was, ' Most readily, Mrs. 
Weston, if you will dance with me.' 

'Me! — oh no — I would get you a better partner than 
myself. I am no dancer.' 

' If Mrs. Gilbert wishes to dance,' said he, ' I shall have 
great pleasure, I am sure ; for, though beginning to feel my- 
self rather an old married man, and that my dancing days are 
over, it would give me very great pleasure at any time to stand 
up with an old friend like Mrs. Gilbert.' 

' Mrs. Gilbert does not mean to dance, but there is a young 
lady disengaged whom I should be very glad to see dancing 
— Miss Smith.' 

'Miss Smith — oh! — I had not observed. You are 
extremely obliging — and if I were not an old married man, — 
but my dancing days are over, Mrs. Weston. You will excuse 
me. Anything else I should be most happy to do, at your 
command — but my dancing days are over.' 

Mrs. Weston said no more ; and Emma could imagine 
with what surprise and mortification she must be returning to 
her seat. This was Mr. Elton ! the amiable, obliging, gentle 
Mr. Elton. She looked round for a moment ; he had joined 
Mr. Knightley at a little distance, and was arranging himself 
for settled conversation, while smiles of high glee passed 
between him and his wife. 

She would not look again. Her heart was in a glow, and 
she feared her face might be as hot. 

In another moment a happier sight caught her — Mr. 
Knightley leading Harriet to the set ! — Never had she been 
more surprised, seldom more delighted, than at that instant. 
She was all pleasure and gratitude, both for Harriet and her- 
self, and longed to be thanking him ; and though too distant 
for speech, her countenance said much, as soon as she could 
catch his eye again. 

His dancing proved to be just what she had believed it, 
extremely good ; and Harriet would have seemed almost too 
lucky, if it had not been for the cruel state of things before, 
and for the very complete enjoyment and very high sense of 
the distinction which her happy features announced. It was 
not thrown away on her ; she bounded higher than ever, flew 
farther down the middle, and was in a continual course of 
smiles. 

294 



EMMA 

Mr. Elton had retreated into the card -room, looking 
(Emma trusted) very foolish. She did not think he was quite 
so hardened as his wife, though growing very like her : she 
spoke some of her feelings, by observing audibly to her 
partner — 

' Knightley has taken pity on poor little Miss Smith ! — 
Very good-natured, I declare.' 

Supper was announced. The move began ; and Miss 
Bates might be heard from that moment without interruption, 
till her being seated at table and taking up her spoon. 

' Jane, Jane, my dear Jane, where are you ? Here is your 
tippet. Mrs. Weston begs you to put on your tippet. She 
says she is afraid there will be draughts in the passage, though 
everything has been done — one door nailed up — quantities of 
matting — my dear Jane, indeed you must. Mr. Churchill, 
oh! you are too obliging! — How well you put it on! — so 
gratified ! Excellent dancing indeed ! — Yes, my dear, I ran 
home, as I said I should, to help grandmamma to bed, and 
got back again, and nobody missed me. I set off without 
saying a word, just as I told you. Grandmamma was quite 
well, had a charming evening with Mr. Woodhouse, a vast 
deal of chat, and backgammon. Tea was made downstairs, 
biscuits and baked apples and wine before she came away : 
amazing luck in some of her throws : and she inquired a great 
deal about you, how you were amused, and who were your 
partners. " Oh ! " said I, " I shall not forestall Jane ; I left 
her dancing with Mr. George Otway ; she will love to tell you 
all about it herself to-morrow : her first partner was Mr. 
Elton ; I do not know who will ask her next, perhaps Mr. 
William Cox." My dear sir, you are too obliging. Is there 
nobody you would not rather ? — I am not helpless. Sir, you 
are most kind. Upon my word, Jane on one arm, and me on 
the other ! Stop, stop, let us stand a little back, Mrs. Elton 
is going ; dear Mrs. Elton, how elegant she looks — beautiful 
lace ! — Now we all follow in her train. Quite the queen of 
the evening ! — Well, here we are at the passage. Two steps, 
Jane, take care of the two steps. Oh no, there is but one. 
Well, I was persuaded there were two. How very odd ! I 
was convinced there were two, and there is but one. I never 
saw anything equal to the comfort and style — candles every- 
where. I was telling you of your grandmamma, Jane, — there 

295 



EMMA 

was a little disappointment. The baked apples and biscuits, 
excellent in their way, you know ; but there was a delicate 
fricassee of sweetbread and some asparagus brought in at first, 
and good Mr. Woodhouse, not thinking the asparagus quite 
boiled enough, sent it all out again. Now there is nothing 
grandmamma loves better than sweetbread and asparagus — so 
she was rather disappointed ; but we agreed we would not 
speak of it to anybody, for fear of its getting round to dear 
Miss Woodhouse, who would be so very much concerned ! — 
Well, this is brilliant ! I am all amazement ! — could not have 
supposed anything ! — such elegance and profusion ! I have 
seen nothing like it since — Well, where shall we sit .'' Where 
shall we sit ? Anywhere, so that Jane is not in a draught. 
Where / sit is of no consequence. Oh, do you recommend 
this side ? Well, I am sure, Mr. Churchill — only it seems too 
good — but just as you please. What you direct in this house 
cannot be wrong. Dear Jane, how shall we ever recollect 
half the dishes for grandmamma ? Soup too ! Bless me ! I 
should not be helped so soon, but it smells most excellent, and 
I cannot help beginning.' 

Emma had no opportunity of speaking to Mr. Knightley 
till after supper ; but, when they were all in the ball-room 
again, her eyes invited him irresistibly to come to her and be 
thanked. He was warm in his reprobation of Mr. Elton's 
conduct ; it had been unpardonable rudeness : and Mrs. 
Elton's looks also received the due share of censure. 

' They aimed at wounding more than Harriet,' said he. 
' Emma, why is it that they are your enemies ? ' 

He looked with smiling penetration ; and, on receiving no 
answer, added, ^S^e ought not to be angry with you, I suspect, 
whatever he may be. — To that surmise you say nothing, of 
course : but confess, Emma, that you did want him to marry 
Harriet.' 

' I did,' replied Emma, ' and they cannot forgive me.' 

He shook his head ; but there was a smile of indulgence 
with it, and he only said — 

' I shall not scold you. I leave you to your own reflections.' 

' Can you trust me with such flatterers ? Does my vain 
spirit ever tell me I am wrong ? ' 

' Not your vain spirit, but your serious spirit. If one leads 
you wrong, I am sure the other tells you of it.' 

296 



EMMA 

* I do own myself to have been completely mistaken in Mr. 
Elton. There is a littleness about him which you discovered, 
and which I did not : and I was fully convinced of his being 
in love with Harriet. It was through a series of strange 
blunders ! ' 

' And, in return for your acknowledging so much, I will do 
you the justice to say that you would have chosen for him 
better than he has chosen for himself. Harriet Smith has 
some first-rate qualities, which Mrs. Elton is totally without. 
An unpretending, single-minded, artless girl — infinitely to be 
preferred by any man of sense and taste to such a woman 
as Mrs. Elton. I found Harriet more conversable than I 
expected.' 

Emma was extremely gratified. They were interrupted 
by the bustle of Mr. Weston caUing on everybody to begin 
dancing again. 

' Come, Miss Woodhouse, Miss Otway, Miss Fairfax, what 
are you all doing ? Come, Emma, set your companions the 
example. Everybody is lazy ! Everybody is asleep ! ' 

* I am ready,' said Emma, ' whenever I am wanted.' 

* Whom are you going to dance with?' asked Mr. Knightley. 
She hesitated a moment, and then replied, 'With you, if 

you will ask me.' 

' Will you ? ' said he, offering his hand. 

* Indeed I will. You have shown that you can dance, and 
you know we are not really so much brother and sister as to 
make it at all improper.' 

* Brother and sister ! — no indeed.' 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

This little explanation with Mr. Knightley gave Emma con- 
siderable pleasure. It was one of the agreeable recollections 
of the ball, which she walked about the lawn the next morning 
to enjoy. She was extremely glad that they had come to so 
good an understanding respecting the Eltons, and that their 
opinions of both husband and wife were so much alike ; and 
his praise of Harriet, his concession in her favour, was 

297 



EMMA 

peculiarly gratifying. The impertinence of the Eltons, which 
for a few minutes had threatened to ruin the rest of her even- 
ing, had been the occasion of some of its highest satisfactions ; 
and she looked forward to another happy result — the cure of 
Harriet's infatuation. From Harriet's manner of speaking of 
the circumstance before they quitted the ball-room, she had 
strong hopes. It seemed as if her eyes were suddenly opened, 
and she were enabled to see that Mr. Elton was not the 
superior creature she had believed him. The fever was over, 
and Emma could harbour little fear of the pulse being 
quickened again by injurious courtesy. She depended on the 
evil feelings of the Eltons for supplying all the discipline of 
pointed neglect that could be further requisite. Harriet 
rational, Frank Churchill not too much in love, and Mr. 
Knightley not wanting to quarrel with her ; how very happy 
a summer must be before her ! 

She was not to see Frank Churchill this morning. He had 
told her that he could not allow himself the pleasure of stop- 
ping at Hartfield, as he was to be at home by the middle of 
the day. She did not regret it. 

Having arranged all these matters, looked them through, 
and put them all to rights, she was just turning to the house, 
with spirits freshened up for the demands of the two little boys, 
as well as of their grandpapa, when the great iron sweep-gate 
opened, and two persons entered whom she had never less 
expected to see together — Frank Churchill, with Harriet 
leaning on his arm — actually Harriet ! A moment sufficed to 
convince her that something extraordinary had happened. 
Harriet looked white and frightened, and he was trying to 
cheer her. The iron gates and the front door were not twenty 
yards asunder : — they were all three soon in the hall ; and 
Harriet, immediately sinking into a chair, fainted away. 

A young lady who faints must be recovered ; questions 
must be answered, and surprises be explained. Such events 
are very interesting ; but the suspense of them cannot last 
long. A few minutes made Emma acquainted with the whole. 

Miss Smith, and Miss Bickerton, another parlour boarder 
at Mrs. Goddard's, who had been also at the ball, had walked 
out together, and taken a road — the Richmond road, which, 
though apparently public enough for safety, had led them into 
alarm. About half a mile beyond Highbury, making a sudden 

298 



EMMA 

turn, and deeply shaded by elms on each side, it became for a 
considerable stretch very retired ; and when the young ladies 
had advanced some way into it, they had suddenly perceived, 
at a small distance before them, on a broader patch of green- 
sward by the side, a party of gipsies. A child on the watch 
came towards them to beg ; and Miss Bickerton, excessively 
frightened, gave a great scream, and calling on Harriet to 
follow her, ran up a steep bank, cleared a slight hedge at the 
top, and made the best of her way by a short cut back to 
Highbury. But poor Harriet could not follow. She had 
suffered very much from cramp after dancing, and her first 
attempt to mount the bank brought on such a return of it as 
made her absolutely powerless ; and in this state, and exceed- 
ingly terrified, she had been obliged to remain. 

How the trampers might have behaved, had the young 
ladies been more courageous, must be doubtful ; but such an 
invitation for attack could not be resisted ; and Harriet was 
soon assailed by half a dozen children, headed by a stout 
woman and a great boy, all clamorous, and impertinent in 
look, though not absolutely in word. More and more 
frightened, she immediately promised them money, and 
taking out her purse, gave them a shilling, and begged them 
not to want more, or to use her ill. She was then able to 
walk, though but slowly, and was moving away — but her terror 
and her purse were too tempting ; and she was followed, or 
rather surrounded, by the whole gang, demanding more. 

In this state Frank Churchill had found her, she trembling 
and conditioning, they loud and insolent. By a most fortunate 
chance, his leaving Highbury had been delayed so as to bring 
him to her assistance at this critical moment. The pleasant- 
ness of the morning had induced him to walk forward, and 
leave his horses to meet him by another road, a mile or two 
beyond Highbury ; and happening to have borrowed a pair of 
scissors the night before of Miss Bates, and to have forgotten 
to restore them, he had been obliged to stop at her door, and 
go in for a few minutes : he was therefore later than he had 
intended ; and being on foot, was unseen by the whole party 
till almost close to them. The terror which the woman and 
boy had been creating in Harriet was then their own portion. 
He had left them completely frightened ; and Harriet, eagerly 
clinging to him, and hardly able to speak, had just strength 

299 



^,^0^ 




Harriet was soon assailed. 



EMMA 

enough to reach Hartfield, before her spirits were quite over- 
come. It was his idea to bring her to Hartfield ; he had 
thought of no other place. 

This was the amount of the whole story, — of his communi- 
cation and of Harriet's, as soon as she had recovered her 
senses and speech. He dared not stay longer than to see her 
well ; these several delays left him not another minute to lose ; 
and Emma engaging to give assurance of her safety to Mrs. 
Goddard, and notice of there being such a set of people in the 
neighbourhood to Mr. Knightley, he set off, with all the grate- 
ful blessings that she could utter for her friend and herself. 

Such an adventure as this, — a fine young man and a lovely 
young woman thrown together in such a way, — could hardly 
fail of suggesting certain ideas to the coldest heart and the 
steadiest brain. So Emma thought, at least. Could a linguist, 
could a grammarian, could even a mathematician have seen 
what she did, have witnessed their appearance together, and 
heard their history of it, without feeling that circumstances had 
been at work to make them peculiarly interesting to each 
other ? How much more must an imaginist, like herself, be 
on fire with speculation and foresight ! — especially with such a 
ground-work of anticipation as her mind had already made. 

It was a very extraordinary thing ! Nothing of the sort 
had ever occurred before to any young ladies in the place, 
within her memory ; no rencontre, no alarm of the kind : and 
now it had happened to the very pefson, and at the very hour, 
when the other very person was chancing to pass by to rescue 
her ! It certainly was very extraordinary ! And knowing, as 
she did, the favourable state of mind of each at this period, it 
struck her the more. He was wishing to get the better of his 
attachment to herself, she just recovering from her mania for 
Mr. Elton. It seemed as if everything united to promise the 
most interesting consequences. It was not possible that the 
occurrence should not be strongly recommending each to the 
other. 

In the few minutes' conversation which she had yet had 
with him, while Harriet had been partially insensible, he had 
spoken of her terror, her naivete^ her fervour as she seized and 
clung to his arm, with a sensibility amused and delighted ; 
and just at last, after Harriet's own account had been given, 
he had expressed his indignation at the abominable folly of 

301 



EMMA 

Miss Bickerton in the warmest terms. Everything was to 
take its natural course, however, neither impelled nor assisted. 
She would not stir a step, nor drop a hint. No, she had had 
enough of interference. There could be no harm in a scheme, 
a mere passive scheme. It was no more than a wish. Beyond 
it she would on no account proceed. 

Emma's first resolution was to keep her father from the 
knowledge of what had passed, aware of the anxiety and alarm 
it would occasion : but she soon felt that concealment must 
be impossible. Within half an hour it was known all over 
Highbury. It was the very event to engage those who talk 
most, the young and the low ; and all the youth and servants 
in the place were soon in the happiness of frightful news. 
The last night's ball seemed lost in the gipsies. Poor Mr. 
Woodhouse trembled as he sat, and, as Emma had foreseen, 
would scarcely be satisfied without their promising never to go 
beyond the shrubbery again. It was some comfort to him 
that many inquiries after himself and Miss Woodhouse (for 
his neighbours knew that he loved to be inquired after), as 
well as Miss Smith, were coming in during the rest of the 
day ; and he had the pleasure of returning for answer that 
they were all very indifferent ; which, though not exactly true, 
for she was perfectly well, and Harriet not much otherwise, 
Emma would not interfere with. She had an unhappy state 
of health in general for the child of such a man, for she hardly 
knew what indisposition was ; and if he did not invent illnesses 
for her, she could make no figure in a message. 

The gipsies did not wait for the operations of justice ; they 
took themselves off in a hurry. The young ladies of Highbury 
might have walked again in safety before their panic began, 
and the whole history dwindled soon into a matter of little 
importance but to Emma and her nephews : in her imagi- 
nation it maintained its ground ; and Henry and John were 
still asking every day for the story of Harriet and the gipsies, 
and still tenaciously setting her right if she varied in the 
slightest particular from the original recital. 



302 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XL 



A VERY few days had passed after this adventure, when 
Harriet came one morning to Emma with a small parcel in 
her hand, and after sitting down and hesitating, thus began : — 

' Miss Woodhouse — if you are at leisure, I have something 
that I should like to tell you ; a sort of confession to make — 
and then, you know, it will be over.' 

Emma was a good deal surprised ; but begged her to 
speak. There was a seriousness in Harriet's manner which 
prepared her, quite as much as her words, for something more 
than ordinary. 

' It is my duty, and I am sure it is my wish,' she con- 
tinued, ' to have no reserves with you on this subject. As I 
am, happily, quite an altered creature in one respect^ it is very 
fit that you should have the satisfaction of knowing it. I do 
not want to say more than is necessary : I am too much 
ashamed of having given way as I have done, and I daresay 
you understand me.' 

'Yes,' said Emma, ' I hope I do.' 

' How I could so long a time be fancying myself ' cried 

Harriet warmly. ' It seems like madness ! I can see nothing 
at all extraordinary in him now. I do not care whether I meet 
him or not, except that, of the two, I had rather not see him ; 
and, indeed, I would go any distance round to avoid him ; but 
I do not envy his wife in the least : I neither admire her nor 
envy her, as I have done. She is very charming, I daresay, 
and all that ; but I think her very ill-tempered and disagree- 
able : I shall never forget her look the other night. However, 
I assure you. Miss Woodhouse, I wish her no evil. No ; let 
them be ever so happy together, it will not give me another 
moment's pang ; and, to convince you that I have been speak- 
ing truth, I am now going to destroy — what I ought to have 
destroyed long ago — what I ought never to have kept : I 
know that very well (blushing as she spoke). However, now 
I will destroy it all ; and it is my particular wish to do it in 
your presence, that you may see how rational I am grown. 

303 



EMMA 

Cannot you guess what this parcel holds ? ' said she, with a 
conscious look. 

' Not the least in the world. Did he ever give you any- 
thing ? ' 

' No — I cannot call them gifts ; but they are things that I 
have valued very much.' 

She held the parcel towards her, and Emma read the 
words ' Most precious treasures ' on the top. Her curiosity 
was greatly excited. Harriet unfolded the parcel, and she 
looked on with impatience. Within abundance of silver paper 
was a pretty little Tunbridge-ware box, which Harriet opened : 
it was well lined with the softest cotton ; but, excepting the 
cotton, Emma saw only a small piece of court-plaister. 

' Now,' said Harriet, ' you must recollect.' 

' No, indeed, I do not.' 

' Dear me ! I should not have thought it possible you could 
forget what passed in this very room about court-plaister, one 
of the very last times we ever met in it. It was but a very 
few days before I had my sore throat — ^just before Mr. and 
Mrs. John Knightley came ; I think the very evening. Do 
not you remember his cutting his finger with your new pen- 
knife, and your recommending court-plaister ? But, as you 
had none about you, and knew I had, yon desired me to 
supply him ; and so I took mine out, and cut him a piece ; 
but it was a great deal too large, and he cut it smaller, and 
kept playing some time with what was left before he gave it 
back to me. And so then, in my nonsense, I could not help 
making a treasure of it ; so I put it by, never to be used, and 
looked at it now and then as a great treat.' 

' My dearest Harriet ! ' cried Emma, putting her hand 
before her face, and jumping up, ' you make me more 
ashamed of myself than I can bear. Remember it ? Ay, 
I remember it all now ; all, except your saving this relic : I 
knew nothing of that till this moment, — but the cutting the 
finger, and my recommending court-plaister, and saying I had 
none about me. — Oh ! my sins, my sins ! — And I had plenty 
all the while in my pocket ! One of my senseless tricks. I 
deserve to be under a continual blush all the rest of my life. 
— Well (sitting down again), go on ; what else ? ' 

' And had you really some at hand yourself ? I am sure I 
never suspected it, you did it so naturally.' 

304 



EMMA 

' And so you actually put this piece of court-plaister by for 
his sake,' said Emma, recovering from her state of shame and 
feeling, divided between wonder and amusement ; and secretly 
she added to herself, ' Lord bless me ! when should I ever 
have thought of putting by in cotton a piece of court-plaister 
that Frank Churchill had been pulling about ! I never was 
equal to this.' 

' Here,' resumed Harriet, turning to her box again, ' here 
is something still more valuable, — I mean that has been more 
valuable, — because this is what did really once belong to him, 
which the court-plaister never did.' 

Emma was quite eager to see this superior treasure. It 
was the end of an old pencil, the part without any lead. 

' This was really his,' said Harriet. ' Do not you re- 
member one morning ? — no, I daresay you do not. But one 
morning — I forget exactly the day, — but perhaps it was the 
Tuesday or Wednesday before that evenings he wanted to 
make a memorandum in his pocket-book ; it was about spruce 
beer. Mr. Knightley had been telling him something about 
brewing spruce beer, and he wanted to put it down ; but when 
he took out his pencil, there was so little lead that he soon cut 
it all away, and it would not do, so you lent him another, and 
this was left upon the table as good for nothing. But I kept 
my eye on it ; and, as soon as I dared, caught it up, and 
never parted with it again from that moment.' 

' I do remember it,' cried Emma ; ' I perfectly remember 
it. Talking about spruce beer. Oh yes. Mr. Knightley 
and I both saying we liked it, and Mr. Elton's seeming re- 
solved to learn to like it too. I perfectly remember it. — Stop ; 
Mr. Knightley was standing just here, was not he ? I have an 
idea he was standing just here.' 

'Ah ! I do not know. I cannot recollect. It is very odd, 
but I cannot recollect. Mr. Elton was sitting here, I re- 
member, much about where I am now.' 

' Well, go on.' 

' Oh ! that's all. I have nothing more to show you, or to 
say, except that I am now going to throw them both behind 
the fire, and I wish you to see me do it.' 

' My poor dear Harriet ! and have you actually found 
happiness in treasuring up these things ? ' 

' Yes, simpleton as I was ! — but I am quite ashamed of it 

X 305 



EMMA 

now, and wish I could forget as easily as I can burn them. It 
was very wrong of me, you know, to keep any remembrances 
after he was married. I knew it was — but had not resolution 
enough to part with them.' 

' But, Harriet, is it necessary to bum the court-plaister ? I 
have not a word to say for the bit of old pencil, but the 
court-plaister might be useful.' 

' I shall be happier to burn it,' replied Harriet. ' It has 
a disagreeable look to me. I must get rid of everything. 
There it goes, and there is an end, thank Heaven ! of Mr. 
Elton.' 

' And when,' thought Emma, ' will there be a beginning of 
Mr. Churchill?' 

She had soon afterwards reason to believe that the begin- 
ning was already made, and could not but hope that the gipsy, 
though she had lo/d no fortune, might be proved to have made 
Harriet's. About a fortnight after the alarm, they came to a 
sufficient explanation, and quite undesignedly. Emma was 
not thinking of it at the moment, which made the information 
she received more valuable. She merely said, in the course of 
some trivial chat, ' Well, Harriet, whenever you marry, I 
would advise you to do so and so ' — and thought no more of 
it, till after a minute's silence she heard Harriet say, in a very 
serious tone, ' I shall never marry.' 

Emma then looked up, and immediately saw how it was ; 
and after a moment's debate, as to whether it should pass 
unnoticed or not, replied — 

' Never marry ! — This is a new resolution.' 

* It is one that I never shall change, however.' 

After another short hesitation, ' I hope it does not proceed 
from I hope it is not in compliment to Mr. Elton ?' 

'Mr. Elton, indeed!' cried Harriet indignantly. — 'Oh 
no ' — and Emma could just catch the words, ' so superior to 
Mr. Elton.' 

She then took a longer time for consideration. Should she 
proceed no further ; — should she let it pass, and seem to 
suspect nothing ? — Perhaps Harriet might think her cold or 
angry if she did ; or, perhaps, if she were totally silent, it might 
only drive Harriet into asking her to hear too much ; and 
against anything like such an unreserve as had been, such an 
open and frequent discussion of hopes and chances, she was 

306 



EMMA 

perfectly resolved. She believed it would be wiser for her to 
say and know at once all that she meant to say and know. 
Plain dealing was always best. She had previously determined 
how far she would proceed, on any application of the sort ; 
and it would be safer for both to have the judicious law of her 
own brain laid down with speed. She was decided, and thus 
spoke — 

' Harriet, I will not affect to be in doubt of your meaning. 
Your resolution, or rather your expectation of never marrying, 
results from an idea that the person whom you might prefer 
would be too greatly your superior in situation to think of you. 
Is not it so ?' 

'Oh, Miss Woodhouse, believe me, I have not the pre- 
sumption to suppose, — indeed I am not so mad. But it is a 
pleasure to me to admire him at a distance, and to think of 
his infinite superiority to all the rest of the world, with the 
gratitude, wonder, and veneration, which are so proper, in me 
especially.' 

' I am not at all surprised at you, Harriet. The service he 
rendered you was enough to warm your heart.' 

' Service ! oh, it was such an inexpressible obligation ! 
The very recollection of it, and all that I felt at the time, when 
I saw him coming, — his noble look, and my wretchedness 
before. Such a change ! In one moment such a change ! 
From perfect misery to perfect happiness ! ' 

'It is very natural. It is natural, and it is honourable. 
Yes, honourable, I think, to choose so well and so gratefully. 
But that it will be a fortunate preference is more than I can 
promise. I do not advise you to give way to it, Harriet. I 
do not by any means engage for its being returned. Consider 
what you are about. Perhaps it will be wisest in you to check 
your feelings while you can : at any rate do not let them carry 
you far, unless you are persuaded of his liking you. Be 
observant of him. Let his behaviour be the guide of your 
sensations. I give you this caution now, because I shall never 
speak to you again on the subject. I am determined against 
all interference. Henceforward I know nothing of the matter. 
Let no name ever pass our lips. We were very wrong before ; 
we will be cautious now. He is your superior, no doubt, and 
there do seem objections and obstacles of a very serious 
nature ; but yet, Harriet, more wonderful things have taken 



EMMA 

place ; there have been matches of greater disparity. But 
take care of yourself. I would not have you too sanguine ; 
though, however it may end, be assured that your raising your 
thoughts to hiin is a mark of good taste which I shall always 
know how to value.' 

Harriet kissed her hand in silent and submissive gratitude. 
Emma was very decided in thinking such an attachment no 
bad thing for her friend. Its tendency would be to raise and 
refine her mind — and it must be saving her from the danger of 
degradation. 



CHAPTER XLI 

In this state of schemes, and hopes, and connivance, June 
opened upon Hartfield. To Highbury, in general, it brought 
no material change. The Eltons were still talking of a visit 
from the Sucklings, and of the use to be made of their 
barouche-landau ; and Jane Fairfax was still at her grand- 
mother's ; and as the return of the Campbells from Ireland 
was again delayed, and August, instead of midsummer, fixed 
for it, she was likely to remain there full two months longer, 
provided at least she were able to defeat Mrs. Elton's activity 
in her service, and save herself from being hurried into a 
delightful situation against her will. 

Mr. Knightley, who, for some reason best known to himself, 
had certainly taken an early dislike to Frank Churchill, was 
only growing to dislike him more. He began to suspect him 
of some double dealing in his pursuit of Emma. That Emma 
was his object appeared indisputable. Everything declared it ; 
his own attentions, his father's hints, his mother-in-law's 
guarded silence, it was all in unison ; words, conduct, discretion, 
and indiscretion, told the same story. But while so many 
were devoting him to Emma, and Emma herself making him 
over to Harriet, Mr. Knightley began to suspect him of some 
inclination to trifle with Jane Fairfax. He could not under- 
stand it ; but there were symptoms of intelligence between 
them — he thought so at least — symptoms of admiration on his 
side, which, having once observed, he could not persuade him- 
self to think entirely void of meaning, however he might wish 

308 



EMMA 

to escape any of Emma's errors of imagination. She was not 
present when the suspicion first arose. He was dining with 
the Randalls family and Jane at the Eltons' ; and he had seen 
a look, more than a single look, at Miss Fairfax, which, from 
the admirer of Miss Woodhouse, seemed somewhat out of 
place. When he was again in their company, he could not 
help remembering what he had seen ; nor could he avoid 
observations which, unless it were like Cowper and his fire at 
twilight. 

Myself creating what I saw, 

brought him yet stronger suspicion of there being a something 
of private liking, of private understanding even, between Frank 
Churchill and Jane. 

He had walked up one day after dinner, as he very often 
did, to spend his evening at Hartfield. Emma and Harriet 
were going to walk ; he joined them ; and, on returning, they 
fell in with a larger party, who, like themselves, judged it 
wisest to take their exercise early, as the weather threatened 
rain ; Mr. and Mrs. Weston and their son, Miss Bates and 
her niece, who had accidentally met. They all united ; and, 
on reaching Hartfield gates, Emma, who knew it was exactly 
the sort of visiting that would be welcome to her father, pressed 
them all to go in and drink tea with him. The Randalls 
party agreed to it immediately ; and after a pretty long speech 
from Miss Bates, which few persons listened to, she also found 
it possible to accept dear Miss Woodhouse's most obliging 
invitation. 

As they were turning into the grounds, Mr. Perry passed 
by on horseback. The gentlemen spoke of his horse. 

' By the bye,' said Frank Churchill to Mrs. Weston pre- 
sently, *what became of Mr. Perry's plan of setting up his 
carriage ? ' 

Mrs. Weston looked surprised, and said, * I did not know 
that he ever had any such plan.' 

* Nay, I had it from you. You wrote me word of it three 
months ago.' 

' Me ! impossible !' 

* Indeed you did. I remember it perfectly. You mentioned 
it as what was certainly to be very soon. Mrs. Perry had told 
somebody, and was extremely happy about it. It was owing 

309 




Mr. Pc7'ry passed ly on horseback. 



EMMA 

to her persuasion, as she thought his being out in bad weather 
did him a great deal of harm. You must remember it now ? ' 

' Upon my word I never heard of it till this moment.' 

' Never ! really never ! — Bless me ! how could it be ? Then 
I must have dreamt it — but I was completely persuaded — Miss 
Smith, you walk as if you were tired. You will not be sorry 
to find yourself at home.' 

' What is this ? — what is this ? ' cried Mr. Weston, ' about 
Perry and a carriage ? Is Perry going to set up his carriage, 
Frank .? I am glad he can afford it. You had it from himself, 
had you ? ' 

' No, sir,' replied his son laughing, * I seem to have had it 
from nobody. Very odd ! I really was persuaded of Mrs. 
Weston's having mentioned it in one of her letters to Enscombe, 
many weeks ago, with all these particulars — but as she declares 
she never heard a syllable of it before, of course it must have 
been a dream. I am a great dreamer. I dream of everybody 
at Highbury when I am away ; and when I have gone through 
my particular friends, then I begin dreaming of Mr. and Mrs. 
Perry.' 

' It is odd though,' observed his father, ' that you should 
have had such a regular connected dream about people whom 
it was not very Hkely you should be thinking of at Enscombe. 
Perry's setting up his carriage ! and his wife's persuading him 
to it, out of care for his health — just what will happen, I have 
no doubt, some time or other ; only a little premature. What 
an air of probability sometimes runs through a dream ! And 
at others, what a heap of absurdities it is ! Well, Frank, your 
dream certainly shows that Highbury is in your thoughts when 
you are absent. Emma, you are a great dreamer, I think ? ' 

Emma was out of hearing. She had hurried on before her 
guests to prepare her father for their appearance, and was 
beyond the reach of Mr. Weston's hint. 

' Why, to own the truth,' cried Miss Bates, who had been 
trying in vain to be heard the last two minutes, *if I must 
speak on this subject, there is no denying that Mr. Frank 
Churchill might have — I do not mean to say that he did not 
dream it — I am sure I have sometimes the oddest dreams in 
the world — but if I am questioned about it, I must acknow- 
ledge that there was such an idea last spring : for Mrs. Peny 
herself mentioned it to my mother and the Coles knew of it as 

3ii 



EMMA 

well as ourselves — but it was quite a secret, known to nobody 
else, and only thought of about three days. Mrs. Perry was 
very anxious that he should have a carriage, and came to my 
mother in great spirits one morning because she thought she 
had prevailed. Jane, don't you remember grandmamma's 
telling us of it when we got home ? I forget where we had 
been walking to — very likely to Randalls ; yes, I think it was 
to Randalls. Mrs. Perry was always particularly fond of my 
mother — indeed I do not know who is not — and she had 
mentioned it to her in confidence ; she had no objection to her 
telling us, of course, but it was not to go beyond : and, from 
that day to this, I never mentioned it to a soul that I know of. 
At the same time, I will not positively answer for my having 
never dropt a hint, because I know I do sometimes pop out a 
thing before I am aware. I am a talker, you know ; I am 
rather a talker ; and now and then I have let a thing escape me 
which I should not. I am not like Jane ; I wish I were. I 
will answer for it she never betrayed the least thing in the 
world. Where is she ? Oh ! just behind. Perfectly remem- 
ber Mrs. Perry's coming. Extraordinary dream indeed ! ' 

They were entering the hall. Mr, Knightley's eyes had 
preceded Miss Bates's in a glance at Jane. From Frank 
Churchill's face, where he thought he saw confusion suppressed 
or laughed away, he had involuntarily turned to hers ; but she 
was indeed behind, and too busy with her shawl. Mr. Weston 
had walked in. The two other gentlemen waited at the door 
to let her pass. Mr. Knightley suspected in Frank Churchill 
the determination of catching her eye — he seemed watching 
her intently — in vain, however, if it were so. Jane passed 
between them into the hall, and looked at neither. 

There was no time for further remark or explanation. The 
dream must be borne with, and Mr. Knightley must take his 
seat with the rest round the large modern circular table which 
Emma had introduced at Hartfield, and which none but Emma 
could have had power to place there and persuade her father 
to use, instead of the small-sized Pembroke on which two of 
his daily meals had, for forty years, been crowded. Tea passed 
pleasantly, and nobody seemed in a hurry to move. 

' Miss Woodhouse,' said Frank Churchill, after examining 
a table behind him, which he could reach as he sat, 'have 
your nephews taken away their alphabets — their box of letters ? 

312 



EMMA 

It used to stand here. Where is it ? This is a sort of dull- 
looking evening, that ought to be treated rather as winter than 
summer. We had great amusement with those letters one 
morning. I want to puzzle you again.' 

Emma was pleased with the thought ; and producing the 
box, the table was quickly scattered over with alphabets, which 
no one seemed so much disposed to employ as their two selves. 
They were rapidly forming words for each other, or for any- 
body else who would be puzzled. The quietness of the game 
made it particularly eligible for Mr. Woodhouse, who had often 
been distressed by the more animated sort, which Mr. Weston 
had occasionally introduced, and who now sat happily occupied 
in lamenting, with tender melancholy, over the departure of the 
*poor little boys,' or in fondly pointing out, as he took up any 
stray letter near him, how beautifully Emma had written it. 

Frank Churchill placed a word before Miss Fairfax. She 
gave a slight glance round the table, and applied herself to it. 
Frank was next to Emma, Jane opposite to them ; and Mr. 
Knightley so placed as to see them all ; and it was his object 
to see as much as he could, with as little apparent observation. 
The word was discovered, and with a faint smile pushed away. 
If meant to be immediately mixed with the others, and buried 
from sight, she should have looked on the table instead of 
looking just across, for it was not mixed ; and Harriet, eager 
after every fresh word, and finding out none, directly took it 
up, and fell to work. She was sitting by Mr. Knightley, and 
turned to him for help. The word was blunder; and as 
Harriet exultingly proclaimed it, there was a blush on Jane's 
cheek which gave it a meaning not otherwise ostensible. Mr. 
Knightley connected it with the dream ; but how it could all 
be, was beyond his comprehension. How the delicacy, the 
discretion, of his favourite could have been so lain asleep ! 
He feared there must be some decided involvement. Disin- 
genuousness and double dealing seemed to meet him at every 
turn. These letters were but the vehicle for gallantry and 
trick. It was a child's play, chosen to conceal a deeper game 
on Frank Churchill's part. 

With great indignation did he continue to observe him ; 
with great alarm and distrust, to observe also his two 
blinded companions. He saw a short word prepared for 
Emma, and given to her with a look sly and demure. He 

313 



EMMA 

saw that Emma had soon made it out, and found it highly 
entertaining, though it was something which she judged it 
proper to appear to censure ; for she said ' Nonsense ! for 
shame ! ' He heard Frank Churchill next say, with a glance 
towards Jane, ' I will give it to her, — shall I ? ' and as clearly 
heard Emma opposing it with eager laughing warmth, — ' No, 
no, you must not, you shall not, indeed.' 

It was done, however. This gallant young man, who 
seemed to love without feeling, and to recommend himself 
without complaisance, directly handed over the word to Miss 
Fairfax, and with a particular degree of sedate civility en- 
treated her to study it. Mr. Knightley's excessive curiosity to 
know what this word might be made him seize every possible 
moment for darting his eye towards it, and it was not long 
before he saw it to be Dixon. Jane Fairfax's perception 
seemed to accompany his ; her comprehension was certainly 
more equal to the covert meaning, the superior intelligence, of 
those five letters so arranged. She was evidently displeased ; 
looked up, and seeing herself watched, blushed more deeply 
than he had ever perceived her, and saying only, ' I did not 
know that proper names were allowed,' pushed away the 
letters with even an angry spirit, and looked resolved to be 
engaged by no other word that could be offered. Her face 
was averted from those who had made the attack, and turned 
towards her aunt. 

' Ay, very true, my dear,' cried the latter, though Jane had 
not spoken a word : ' I was just going to say the same thing. 
It is time for us to be going, indeed. The evening is closing 
in, and grandmamma will be looking for us. My dear sir, 
you are too obliging. We really must wish you good-night.' 

Jane's alertness in moving proved her as ready as her aunt 
had preconceived. She was immediately up, and wanting to 
quit the table ; but so many were also moving, that she could 
not get away ; and Mr. Knightley thought he saw another 
collection of letters, anxiously pushed towards her, and 
resolutely swept away by her unexamined. She was after- 
wards looking for her shawl, — Frank Churchill was looking 
also : it was growing dusk, and the room was in confusion ; 
and how they parted, Mr. Knightley could not tell. 

He remained at Hartfield after all the rest, his thoughts 
full of what he had seen ; so full, that when the candles came 

314 



EMMA 

to assist his observations, he must, — yes, he certainly must, as 
a friend — an anxious friend — give Emma some hint, ask her 
some question. He could not see her in a situation of such 
danger, without trying to preserve her. It was his duty. 

' Pray, Emma,' said he, ' may I ask in what lay the great 
amusement, the poignant sting, of the last word given to you 
and Miss Fairfax ? I saw the word, and am curious to know 
how it could be so very entertaining to the one, and so very 
distressing to the other.' 

Emma was extremely confused. She could not endure to 
give him the true explanation ; for though her suspicions were 
by no means removed, she was really ashamed of having ever 
imparted them. 

< Oh ! ' she cried, in evident embarrassment, * it all meant 
nothing : a mere joke among ourselves.' 

' The joke,' he replied gravely, * seemed confined to you 
and Mr. Churchill.' 

He had hoped she would speak again, but she did not. 
She would rather busy herself about anything, than speak. 
He sat a little while in doubt. A variety of evils crossed his 
mind. Interference — fruitless interference. Emma's confusion, 
and the acknowledged intimacy, seemed to declare her affec- 
tion engaged. Yet he would speak. He owed it to her, to 
risk anything that might be involved in an unwelcome inter- 
ference, rather than her welfare ; to encounter anything, rather 
than the remembrance of neglect in such a cause. 

* My dear Emma,' said he at last, with earnest kindness, 
' do you think you perfectly understand the degree of acquaint- 
ance between the gentleman and lady we have been speaking 
of.?' 

* Between Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Fairfax ? Oh 
yes, perfectly. Why do you make a doubt of it ? ' 

' Have you never at any time had reason to think that he 
admired her, or that she admired him ? ' 

' Never, never ! ' she cried with a most open eagerness. 
' Never, for the twentieth part of a moment, did such an idea 
occur to me. And how could it possibly come into your 
head?' 

' I have lately imagined that I saw symptoms of attachment 
between them ; certain expressive looks, which I did not 
believe meant to be public' 

315 



EMMA 

* Oh ! you amuse me excessively. I am delighted to find 
that you can vouchsafe to let your imagination wander ; but it 
will not do — very sorry to check you in your first essay, but 
indeed it will not do. There is no admiration between them, 
I do assure you ; and the appearances which have caught you 
have arisen from some peculiar circumstances, — feelings rather, 
of a totally different nature : it is impossible exactly to explain ; 
there is a good deal of nonsense in it ; but the part which is 
capable of being communicated, which is sense, is, that they 
are as far from any attachment or admiration for one another 
as any two beings in the world can be. That is, I presume it 
to be so on her side, and I can answer for its being so on his. 
I will answer for the gentleman's indifference.' 

She spoke with a confidence which staggered, with a satis- 
faction which silenced, Mr. Knightley. She was in gay spirits, 
and would have prolonged the conversation, wanting to hear 
the particulars of his suspicions, every look described, and all 
the wheres and hows of a circumstance which highly enter- 
tained her ; but his gaiety did not meet hers. He found he 
could not be useful, and his feelings were too much irritated 
for talking. That he might not be irritated into an absolute 
fever by the fire which Mr. Woodhouse's tender habits 
required almost every evening throughout the year, he soon 
afterwards took a hasty leave, and walked home to the cool- 
ness and solitude of Donwell Abbey. 



CHAPTER XLII 

After being long fed with hopes of a speedy visit from Mr. 
and Mrs. Suckling, the Highbury world were obliged to 
endure the mortification of hearing that they could not possibly 
come till the autumn. No such importation of novelties could 
enrich their intellectual stores at present. In the daily inter- 
change of news, they must be again restricted to the other 
topics, with which for a while the Sucklings' coming had been 
united, such as the last accounts of Mrs. Churchill, whose 
health seemed every day to supply a different report, and 
the situation of Mrs. Weston, whose happiness it was to be 

316 



EMMA 

hoped might eventually be as much increased by the arrival of 
a child, as that of all her neighbours was by the approach of it. 

Mrs. Elton was very much disappointed. It was the delay 
of a great deal of pleasure and parade. Her introductions and 
recommendations must all wait, and every projected party be 
still only talked of. So she thought at first ; — but a little con- 
sideration convinced her that everything need not be put off. 
Why should not they explore to Box Hill though the Sucklings 
did not come ? They could go there again with them in the 
autumn. It was settled that they should go to Box Hill. 
That there was to be such a party had been long generally 
known ; it had even given the idea of another. Emma had 
never been to Box Hill ; she wished to see what everybody 
found so well worth seeing, and she and Mr. Weston had 
agreed to choose some fine morning and drive thither. Two 
or three more of the chosen only were to be admitted to join 
them, and it was to be done in a quiet, unpretending, elegant 
way, infinitely superior to the bustle and preparation, the 
regular eating and drinking and picnic parade, of the Eltons 
and the Sucklings. 

This was so very well understood between them, that 
Emma could not but feel some surprise, and a little displeasure, 
on hearing from Mr. Weston that he had been proposing to 
Mrs. Elton, as her brother and sister had failed her, that the 
two parties should unite, and go together ; and that as Mrs. 
Elton had very readily acceded to it, so it was to be, if she 
had no objection. Now, as her objection was nothing but her 
very great dislike of Mrs. Elton, of which Mr. Weston must 
already be perfectly aware, it was not worth bringing forward 
again : — it could not be done without a reproof to him, which 
would be giving pain to his wife ; and she found herself, there- 
fore, obliged to consent to an arrangement which she would 
have done a great deal to avoid ; an arrangement which would, 
probably, expose her even to the degradation of being said to 
be of Mrs. Elton's party ! Every feeling was offended ; and 
the forbearance of her outward submission left a heavy arrear 
due of secret severity in her reflections on the unmanageable 
goodwill of Mr. Weston's temper. 

' I am glad you approve of what I have done,' said he, 
very comfortably. ' But I thought you would. Such schemes 
as these are nothing without numbers. One cannot have too 

317 



EMMA 

large a party. A large party secures its own amusement. 
And she is a good-natured woman after all. One could not 
leave her out.' 

Emma denied none of it aloud, and agreed to none of it in 
private. 

It was now the middle of June and the weather fine ; and 
Mrs. Elton was growing impatient to name the day, and settle 
with Mr. Weston as to pigeon-pies and cold lamb, when a 
lame carriage -horse threw everything into sad uncertainty. 
It might be weeks, it might be only a few days, before the 
horse were usable ; but no preparations could be ventured on, 
and it was all melancholy stagnation. Mrs. Elton's resources 
were inadequate to such an attack. 

' Is not this most vexatious, Knightley ? ' she cried ; ' and 
such weather for exploring ! these delays and disappointments 
are quite odious. What are we to do ? The year will wear 
away at this rate, and nothing done. Before this time, last 
year, I assure you, we had a delightful exploring party from 
Maple Grove to Kings Weston.' 

'■ You had better explore to Donwell,' replied Mr. Knightley. 
' That may be done without horses. Come, and eat my straw- 
berries : they are ripening fast.' 

If Mr. Knightley did not begin seriously, he was obliged to 
proceed so ; for his proposal was caught at with delight ; and 
the ' Oh ! I should like it of all things,' was not plainer in 
words than manner. Donwell was famous for its strawberry 
beds, which seemed a plea for the invitation : but no plea was 
necessary ; cabbage beds would have been enough to tempt 
the lady, who only wanted to be going somewhere. She pro- 
mised him again and again to come — much oftener than he 
doubted — and was extremely gratified by such a proof of inti- 
macy, such a distinguishing compliment as she chose to con- 
sider it. 

'You may depend upon me,' said she; 'I certainly will 
come. — Name your day, and I will come. — You will allow me 
to bring Jane Fairfax .? ' 

' I cannot name a day,' said he, ' till I have spoken to some 
others, whom I would wish to meet you.' 

* Oh, leave all that to me ; only give me a carte-blanche. — 
I am lady patroness, you know. It is my party. I will 
bring friends with me.' 

318 



EMMA 

* I hope you will bring Elton,' said he ; ' but I will not 
trouble you to give any other invitations.' 

* Oh, now you are looking very sly ; — but consider, — you 
need not be afraid of delegating power to me. I am no young 
lady on her preferment. Married women, you know, may be 
safely authorised. It is my party. Leave it all to me. I 
will invite your guests.' 

' No,' he calmly replied, * there is but one married woman 
in the world whom I can ever allow to invite what guests she 
pleases to Donwell, and that one is ' 

' Mrs. Weston, I suppose,' interrupted Mrs. Elton, rather 
mortified. 

*No, — Mrs. Knightley ; and, till she is in being, I will 
manage such matters myself.' 

* Ah, you are an odd creature ! ' she cried, satisfied to have 
no one preferred to herself. ' You are a humourist, and may 
say what you like. Quite a humourist. Well, I shall bring 
Jane with me — Jane and her aunt. The rest I leave to you. 
I have no objections at all to meeting the Hartfield family. 
Don't scruple, I know you are attached to them.' 

* You certainly will meet them, if I can prevail ; and I 
shall call on Miss Bates in my way home.' 

' That is quite unnecessary ; I see Jane every day ; — but as 
you like. It is to be a morning scheme, you know, Knightley ; 
quite a simple thing. I shall wear a large bonnet, and bring 
one of my little baskets hanging on my arm. Here, — probably 
this basket with pink riband. Nothing can be more simple, 
you see. And Jane will have such another. There is to be 
no form or parade — a sort of gipsy party. We are to walk 
about your gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, 
and sit under trees ; and whatever else you may like to 
provide, it is to be all out of doors ; a table spread in the 
shade, you know. Everything as natural and simple as 
possible. Is not that your idea ?' 

'■ Not quite. My idea of the simple and the natural will be 
to have the table spread in the dining-room. The nature and 
the simplicity of gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and 
furniture, I think is best observed by meals within doors. 
When you are tired of eating strawberries in the garden, there 
shall be cold meat in the house.' 

*Well, as you please; only don't have a great set-out. 

319 




Oh, now you are looking very sly.' 



EMMA 

And, by the bye, can I or my housekeeper be of any use to 
you with our opinion ? Pray be sincere, Knightley. If you 
wish me to talk to Mrs. Hodges, or to inspect anything ' 

' I have not the least wish for it, I thank you.' 

' Well, — but if any difficulties should arise, my housekeeper 
is extremely clever.' 

' I will answer for it, that mine thinks herself full as clever, 
and would spurn anybody's assistance.' 

' I wish we had a donkey. The thing would be for us all 
to come on donkeys, Jane, Miss Bates, and me, and my caro 
sposo walking by. I really must talk to him about purchasing 
a donkey. In a country life I conceive it to be a sort of 
necessary ; for, let a woman have ever so many resources, it is 
not possible for her to be always shut up at home ; and very 
long walks you know — in summer there is dust, and in winter 
there is dirt.' 

' You will not find either between Don well and Highbury. 
Donwell Lane is never dusty, and now it is perfectly dry. 
Come on a donkey, however, if you prefer it. You can borrow 
Mrs. Cole's. I would wish everything to be as much to your 
taste as possible.' 

' That I am sure you would. Indeed I do you justice, my 
good friend. Under that peculiar sort of dry, blunt manner, 
I know you have the warmest heart. As I tell Mr. E., 
you are a thorough humourist. Yes, believe me, Knightley, 
I am fully sensible of your attention to me in the whole 
of this scheme. You have hit upon the very thing to please 
me.' 

Mr. Knightley had another reason for avoiding a table in 
the shade. He wished to persuade Mr. Woodhouse, as well 
as Emma, to join the party ; and he knew that to have any of 
them sitting down out of doors to eat would inevitably make 
him ill. Mr. Woodhouse must not, under the specious pre- 
tence of a morning drive, and an hour or two spent at Donwell, 
be tempted away to his misery. 

He was invited on good faith. No lurking horrors were to 
upbraid him for his easy credulity. He did consent. He 
had not been at Donwell for two years. ' Some very fine 
morning, he, Emma, and Harriet, could go very well ; and he 
could sit still with Mrs, Weston while the dear girls walked 
about the gardens. He did not suppose they could be damp 
Y 321 



EMMA 

now, in the middle of the day. He should like to see the old 
house again exceedingly, and should be very happy to meet 
Mr. and Mrs. Elton, and any other of his neighbours. He 
could not see any objection at all to his and Emma's, and 
Harriet's, going there some very fine morning. He thought 
it very well done of Mr. Knightley to invite them ; very kind 
and sensible ; much cleverer than dining out. He was not 
fond of dining out.' 

Mr. Knightley was fortunate in everybody's most ready 
concurrence. The invitation was everywhere so well received, 
that it seemed as if, like Mrs. Elton, they were all taking the 
scheme as a particular compliment to themselves. Emma 
and Harriet professed very high expectations of pleasure from 
it ; and Mr. Weston, unasked, promised to get Frank over to 
join them, if possible ; a proof of approbation and gratitude 
which could have been dispensed with. Mr. Knightley was 
then obliged to say that he should be glad to see him ; and 
Mr. Weston engaged to lose no time in writing, and spare no 
arguments to induce him to come. 

In the meanwhile the lame horse recovered so fast that 
the party to Box Hill was again under happy consideration ; 
and at last Don well was settled for one day, and Box Hill for 
the next ; the weather appearing exactly right. 

Under a bright mid-day sun, at almost midsummer, Mr. 
Woodhouse was safely conveyed in his carriage, with one 
window down, to partake of this al fresco party ; and in one 
of the most comfortable rooms in the Abbey, especially 
prepared for him by a fire all the morning, he was happily 
placed, quite at his ease, ready to talk with pleasure of 
what had been achieved, and advise everybody to come and 
sit down, and not to heat themselves. Mrs. Weston, who 
seemed to have walked there on purpose to be tired, and sit 
all the time with him, remained, when all the others were 
invited or persuaded out, his patient listener and sympathiser. 

It was so long since Emma had been at the Abbey, that as 
soon as she was satisfied of her father's comfort, she was glad 
to leave him, and look around her ; eager to refresh and 
correct her memory with more particular observation, more 
exact understanding of a house and grounds which must ever 
be so interesting to her and all her family. 

She felt all the honest pride and complacency which her 
322 



EMMA 

alliance with the present and future proprietor could fairly 
warrant, as she viewed the respectable size and style of the 
building-, its suitable, becoming characteristic situation, low 
and sheltered ; its ample gardens stretching down to meadows 
washed by a stream, of which the Abbey, with all the old 
neglect of prospect, had scarcely a sight, — and its abundance 
of timber in rows and avenues, which neither fashion nor 
extravagance had rooted up. The house was larger than 
Hartfield, and totally unlike it, covering a good deal of ground, 
rambling and irregular, with many comfortable and one or 
two handsome rooms. It was just what it ought to be, and it 
looked what it was ; and Emma felt an increasing respect for 
it, as the residence of a family of such true gentility, untainted 
in blood and understanding. Some faults of temper John 
Knightley had ; but Isabella had connected herself unexcep- 
tionably. She had given them neither men, nor names, nor 
places, that could raise a blush. These were pleasant feelings, 
and she walked about and indulged them till it was necessary 
to do as the others did, and collect round the strawberry beds. 
The whole party were assembled, excepting Frank Churchill, 
who was expected every moment from Richmond ; and Mrs. 
Elton in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and 
her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, 
accepting, or talking. Strawberries, and only strawberries, 
could now be thought or spoken of 'The best fruit in 
England — everybody's favourite — always wholesome. These 
the finest beds and finest sorts. Delightful to gather for one's 
self — the only way of really enjoying them. Morning 
decidedly the best time — never tired — every sort good — 
hautboy infinitely superior — no comparison — the others 
hardly eatable — hautboys very scarce — Chili preferred — white 
wood finest flavour of all — price of strawberries in London — 
abundance about Bristol — Maple Grove — cultivation — beds 
when to be renewed — gardeners thinking exactly different — no 
general rule — gardeners never to be put out of their way — 
delicious fruit — only too rich to be eaten much of — inferior to 
cherries — currants more refreshing — only objection to gather- 
ing strawberries the stooping — glaring sun — tired to death — 
could bear it no longer — must go and sit in the shade.' 

Such, for half an hour, was the conversation ; interrupted 
only once by Mrs. Weston, who came out, in her solicitude 

3^3 



EMMA 

after her son-in-law, to inquire if he were come ; and she was 
a little uneasy. She had some fears of his horse. 

Seats tolerably in the shade were found ; and now Emma 
was obliged to overhear what Mrs. Elton and Jane Fairfax 
were talking of. A situation, a most desirable situation, was 
in question. Mrs, Elton had received notice of it that 
morning, and was in raptures. It was not with Mrs. Suckling, 
it was not with Mrs. Bragge, but in felicity and splendour it 
fell short only of them : it was with a cousin of Mrs. Bragge, 
an acquaintance of Mrs. Suckling, a lady known at Maple 
Grove. Delightful, charming, superior, first circles, spheres, 
lines, ranks, everything : and Mrs. Elton was wild to have the 
oifer closed with immediately. On her side, all was warmth, 
energy, and triumph ; and she positively refused to take her 
friend's negative, though Miss Fairfax continued to assure her 
that she would not at present engage in anything — repeating 
the same motives which she had been heard to urge before. 
Still Mrs. Elton insisted on being authorised to write an 
acquiescence by the morrow's post. How Jane could bear it 
at all, was astonishing to Emma. She did look vexed ; she 
did speak pointedly ; and at last, with a decision of action 
unusual to her, proposed a removal. ' Should not they walk ? 
Would not Mr. Knightley show them the gardens — all the 
gardens ? She wished to see the whole extent.' The perti- 
nacity of her friend seemed more than she could bear. 

It was hot ; and after walking some time over the gardens 
in a scattered, dispersed way, scarcely any three together, 
they insensibly followed one another to the delicious shade of 
a broad short avenue of limes, which, stretching beyond the 
garden at an equal distance from the river, seemed the finish 
of the pleasure grounds. It led to nothing ; nothing but a 
view at the end over a low stone wall with high pillars, 
which seemed intended, in their erection, to give the appear- 
ance of an approach to the house, which never had been 
there. Disputable, however, as might be the taste of such a 
termination, it was in itself a charming walk, and the view 
which closed it extremely pretty. The considerable slope, at 
nearly the foot of which the Abbey stood, gradually acquired a 
steeper form beyond its grounds; and at half a mile distant was 
a bank of considerable abruptness and grandeur, well clothed 
with wood ; and at the bottom of this bank, favourably placed 

324 



EMMA 

and sheltered, rose the Abbey-Mill Farm, with meadows in front, 
and the river making a close and handsome curve around it. 

It was a sweet view — sweet to the eye and the mind. 
English verdure, English culture, English comfort, seen under 
a sun bright, without being oppressive. 

In this walk Emma and Mr. Weston found all the others 
assembled ; and towards this view she immediately perceived 
Mr. Knightley and Harriet distinct from the rest, quietly 
leading the way. Mr. Knightley and Harriet ! It was an odd 
tete-cL-tete J but she was glad to see it. There had been a time 
when he would have scorned her as a companion, and turned 
from her with little ceremony. Now they seemed in pleasant 
conversation. There had been a time also when Emma 
would have been sorry to see Harriet in a spot so favourable 
for the Abbey-Mill Farm ; but now she feared it not. It 
might be safely viewed with all its appendages of prosperity 
and beauty, its rich pastures, spreading flocks, orchard in 
blossom, and light column of smoke ascending. She joined 
them at the wall, and found them more engaged in talking 
than in looking around. He was giving Harriet information 
as to modes of agriculture, etc. ; and Emma received a 
smile which seemed to say, ' These are my own concerns. I 
have a right to talk on such subjects, without being suspected 
of introducing Robert Martin.' She did not suspect him. It 
was too old a story. Robert Martin had probably ceased to 
think of Harriet. They took a few turns together along the 
walk. The shade was most refreshing, and Emma found it 
the pleasantest part of the day. 

The next remove was to the house ; they must all go in 
and eat ; and they were all seated and busy, and still Frank 
Churchill did not come. Mrs. Weston looked, and looked in 
vain. His father would not own himself uneasy, and laughed 
at her fears ; but she could not be cured of wishing that he 
would part with his black mare. He had expressed himself as 
to coming, with more than common certainty. 

'His aunt was so much better, that he had not a doubt of 
getting over to them.' Mrs. Churchill's state, however, as 
many were ready to remind her, was liable to such sudden 
variation as might disappoint her nephew in the most reason- 
able dependence ; and Mrs. Weston was at last persuaded to 
believe, or to say, that it must be by some attack of Mrs. 

325 



EMMA 

Churchill that he was prevented coming. Emma looked at 
Harriet while the point was under consideration ; she behaved 
very well and betrayed no emotion. 

The cold repast was over, and the party were to go out 
once more to see what had not yet been seen, the old Abbey 
fish-ponds ; perhaps get as far as the clover, which was to be 
begun cutting on the morrow, or, at any rate, have the plea- 
sure of being hot, and growing cool again. Mr. Woodhouse, 
who had already taken his little round in the highest part of 
the gardens, where no damps from the river were imagined 
even by him, stirred no more ; and his daughter resolved to 
remain with him, that Mrs. Weston might be persuaded away 
by her husband to the exercise and variety which her spirits 
seemed to need. 

Mr. Knightley had done all in his power for Mr. Wood- 
house's entertainment. Books of engravings, drawers of 
medals, cameos, corals, shells, and every other family collec- 
tion within his cabinets, had been prepared for his old friend, 
to while away the morning ; and the kindness had perfectly 
answered. Mr. Woodhouse had been exceedingly well 
amused. Mrs. Weston had been showing them all to him, 
and now he would show them all to Emma ; fortunate in 
having no other resemblance to a child, than in a total want 
of taste for what he saw, for he was slow, constant, and 
methodical. Before this second looking over was begun, 
however, Emma walked into the hall for the sake of a few 
moments' free observation of the entrance and ground-plot of 
the house, and was hardly there when Jane Fairfax appeared, 
coming quickly in from the garden, and with a look of escape. 
Little expecting to meet Miss Woodhouse so soon, there was a 
start at first ; but Miss Woodhouse was the very person she 
was in quest of. 

' Will you be so kind,' said she, ' when I am missed, as to 
say that I am gone home ? I am going this moment. My 
aunt is not aware how late it is, nor how long we have been 
absent ; but I am sure we shall be wanted, and I am deter- 
mined to go directly. I have said nothing about it to any- 
body. It would only be giving trouble and distress. Some 
are gone to the ponds, and some to the lime walk. Till they 
all come in I shall not be missed ; and when they do, will you 
have the goodness to say that I am gone ? ' 

326 



EMMA 

* Certainly, if you wish it ; but you are not going to walk 
to Highbury alone?' 

' Yes ; what should hurt me ? I walk fast. I shall be at 
home in twenty minutes.' 

' But it is too far, indeed it is, to be walking quite alone. 
Let my father's servant go with you. Let me order the 
carriage. It can be round in five minutes.' 

' Thank you, thank you ; but on no account ; I would 
rather walk. And for ine to be afraid of walking alone ; I, 
who may so soon have to guard others ! ' 

She spoke with great agitation ; and Emma very feelingly 
replied, — ' That can be no reason for your being exposed to 
danger now. I must order the carriage. The heat even 
would be danger. You are fatigued already.' 

' I am,' she answered, ' I am fatigued ; but it is not the 
sort of fatigue — quick walking will refresh me. Miss Wood- 
house, we all know at times what it is to be wearied in spirits. 
Mine, I confess, are exhausted. The greatest kindness you 
can show me will be to let me have my own way, and only 
say that I am gone when it is necessary.' 

Emma had not another word to oppose. She saw it all ; 
and entering into her feelings, promoted her quitting the house 
immediately, and watched her safely off with the zeal of a 
friend. Her parting look was grateful ; and her parting 
words, ' Oh, Miss Woodhouse, the comfort of being some- 
times alone ! ' seemed to burst from an overcharged heart, 
and to describe somewhat of the continual endurance to be 
practised by her, even towards some of those who loved her 
best 

' Such a home, indeed ! such an aunt ! ' said Emma, as she 
turned back into the hall again. ' I do pity you. And the 
more sensibility you betray of their just horrors, the more I 
shall like you.' 

Jane had not been gone a quarter of an hour, and they had 
only accomplished some views of St. Mark's Place, Venice, 
when Frank Churchill entered the room. Emma had not 
been thinking of him ; she had forgotten to think of him ; but 
she was very glad to see him. Mrs. Weston would be at ease. 
The black mare was blameless ; they were right who had 
named Mrs. Churchill as the cause. He had been detained 
by a temporary increase of illness in her ; — a nervous seizure, 

327 



EMMA 

which had lasted some hours ; and he had quite given up 
every thought of coming till very late ; and had he known 
how hot a ride he should have, and how late, with all his 
hurry, he must be, he believed he should not have come at all. 
The heat was excessive ; he had never suffered anything like 
it — almost wished he had stayed at home — nothing killed him 
like heat — he could bear any degree of cold, etc., but heat was 
intolerable ; and he sat down, at the greatest possible distance 
from the slight remains of Mr. Woodhouse's fire, looking very 
deplorable. 

' You will soon be cooler, if you sit still,' said Emma. 

' As soon as I am cooler I shall go back again. I could 
very ill be spared ; but such a point had been made of my 
coming ! You will all be going soon, I suppose ; the whole 
party breaking up, I met one as I came — Madness in such 
weather ! — absolute madness ! ' 

Emma listened, and looked, and soon perceived that Frank 
Churchill's state might be best defined by the expressive 
phrase of being out of humour. Some people were always 
cross when they were hot. Such might be his constitution ; 
and as she knew that eating and drinking were often the cure 
of such incidental complaints, she recommended his taking 
some refreshment ; he would find abundance of everything in 
the dining-room ; and she humanely pointed out the door. 

* No ; he should not eat. He was not hungry ; it would 
only make him hotter.' In two minutes, however, he relented 
in his own favour; and muttering something about spruce 
beer, walked off. Emma returned all her attention to her 
father, saying in secret — 

' I am glad I have done being in love with him. I should 
not like a man who is so soon discomposed by a hot morning. 
Harriet's sweet easy temper will not mind it.' 

He was gone long enough to have had a very comfortable 
meal, and came back all the better — grown quite cool, and, 
with good manners, like himself, able to draw a chair close to 
them, take an interest in their employment, and regret, in a 
reasonable way, that he should be so late. He was not in his 
best spirits, but seemed trying to improve them ; and, at last, 
made himself talk nonsense very agreeably. They were 
looking over views in Swisserland. 

' As soon as my aunt gets well, I shall go abroad,' said he. 
3=8 




Able to take an interest in their cm jiloyjnent. 



EMMA 

* I shall never be easy till I have seen some of these places. 
You will have my sketches, some time or other, to look at — 
or my tour to read — or my poem. I shall do something to 
expose myself.' 

' That may be — but not by sketches in Swisserland. You 
will never go to Swisserland. Your uncle and aunt will never 
allow you to leave England.' 

' They may be induced to go too. A warm climate may 
be prescribed for her. I have more than half an expectation 
of our all going abroad. I assure you I have. I feel a 
strong persuasion, this morning, that I shall soon be abroad. 
I ought to travel. I am tired of doing nothing. I want a 
change. I am serious. Miss Woodhouse, whatever your 
penetrating eyes may fancy — I am sick of England — and 
would leave it to-morrow, if I could.' 

* You are sick of prosperity and indulgence. Cannot you 
invent a few hardships for yourself, and be contented to stay ? ' 

' / sick of prosperity and indulgence ! You are quite mis- 
taken. I do not look upon myself as either prosperous or 
indulged. I am thwarted in everything material. I do not 
consider myself at all a fortunate person.' 

' You are not quite so miserable, though, as when you first 
came. Go, and eat and drink a little more, and you will do 
very well. Another slice of cold meat, another draught of 
Madeira and water, will make you nearly on a par with the 
rest of us.' 

' No — I shall not stir. I shall sit by you. You are my 
best cure.' 

' We are going to Box Hill to-morrow : you will join us. 
It is not Swisserland, but it will be something for a young 
man so much in want of a change. You will stay, and go 
with us ? ' 

' No, certainly not ; I shall go home in the cool of the 
evening.' 

'But you may come again in the, cool of to-morrow 
morning.' 

' No — it will not be worth while. If I come, I shall be 
cross.' 

' Then pray stay at Richmond.' 

' But if I do, I shall be crosser still. I can never bear to 
think of you all there without me.' 

330 



EMMA 

* These are difficulties which you must settle for yourself. 
Choose your own degree of crossness. I shall press you no 
more.' 

The rest of the party were now returning, and all were 
soon collected. With some there was great joy at the sight 
of Frank Churchill ; others took it very composedly ; but there 
was a very general distress and disturbance on Miss Fairfax's 
disappearance being explained. That it was time for every- 
body to go, concluded the subject ; and with a short final 
arrangement for the next day's scheme, they parted. Frank 
Churchill's little inclination to exclude himself increased so 
much, that his last words to Emma were — 

' Well ; — if you wish me to stay and join the party, I will.' 

She smiled her acceptance ; and nothing less than a 
summons from Richmond was to take him back before the 
following evening. 



CHAPTER XLIII 

They had a very fine day for Box Hill ; and all the other 
outward circumstances of arrangement, accommodation, and 
punctuality, were in favour of a pleasant party. Mr. Weston 
directed the whole, officiating safely between Hartfield and 
the Vicarage, and everybody was in good time. Emma and 
Harriet went together ; Miss Bates and her niece, with the 
Eltons ; the gentlemen on horseback. Mrs. Weston remained 
with Mr. Woodhouse. Nothing was wanting but to be happy 
when they got there. Seven miles were travelled in ex- 
pectation of enjoyment, and everybody had a burst of admiration 
on first arriving ; but in the general amount of the day there 
was deficiency. There was a languor, a want of spirits, a 
want of union, which could not be got over. They separated 
too much into parties. The Eltons walked together ; Mr. 
Knightley took charge of Miss Bates and Jane ; and Emma 
and Harriet belonged to Frank Churchill. And Mr. Weston 
tried in vain to make them harmonise better. It seemed at 
first an accidental division, but it never materially varied. 
Mr. and Mrs. Elton, indeed, showed no unwillingness to mix, 

331 



^ EMMA 

and be as agreeable as they could : but during the two whole hours 
that were spent on the hill, there seemed a principle of separation 
between the other parties, too strong for any fine prospects, 
or any cold collation, or any cheerful Mr, Weston, to remove. 

At first it was downright dulness to Emma. She had 
never seen Frank Churchill so silent and stupid. He said 
nothing worth hearing — looked without seeing — admired with- 
out intelligence — listened without knowing what she said. 
While he was so dull, it was no wonder that Harriet should be 
dull likewise ; and they were both insufferable. 

When they all sat down it was better — to her taste a great 
deal better — for Frank Churchill grew talkative and gay, 
making her his first subject. Every distinguishing attention 
that could be paid, was paid to her. To amuse her, and be 
agreeable in her eyes, seemed all that he cared for, — and 
Emma, glad to be enlivened, not sorry to be flattered, was gay 
and easy too, and gave him all the friendly encouragement, 
the admission to be gallant, which she had ever given in the 
first and most animating period of their acquaintance ; but 
which now, in her own estimation, meant nothing, though in 
the judgment of most people looking on it must have had 
such an appearance as no English word but flirtation could 
very well describe. * Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Woodhouse 
flirted together excessively.' They were laying themselves 
open to that very phrase — and to having it sent off in a letter 
to Maple Grove by one lady, to Ireland by another. Not 
that Emma was gay and thoughtless from any real felicity ; it 
was rather because she felt less happy than she had expected. 
She laughed because she was disappointed ; and though she 
liked him for his attentions, and thought them all, whether in 
friendship, admiration, or playfulness, extremely judicious, they 
were not winning back her heart. She still intended him for 
her friend. 

' How much I am obliged to you,' said he, 'for telling me 
to come to-day ! — If it had not been for you, I should cer- 
tainly have lost all the happiness of this party. I had quite 
determined to go away again.' 

' Yes, you were very cross ; and I do not know what about, 
except that you were too late for the best strawberries. I was 
a kinder friend than you deserved. But you were humble. 
You begged hard to be commanded to come.' 

332 



EMMA 

* Don't say I was cross. I was fatigued. The heat over- 
came me.' 

' It is hotter to-day.' 

* Not to my feelings. I am perfectly comfortable to-day.' 
' You are comfortable because you are under command.' 

' Your command .? — Yes.' 

* Perhaps I intended you to say so, but I meant self-com- 
mand. You had, somehow or other, broken bounds yesterday, 
and run away from your own management ; but to-day you are 
got back again — and as I cannot be always with you, it is best 
to believe your temper under your own command rather than 
mine.' 

' It comes to the same thing. I can have no self-command 
without a motive. You order me, whether you speak or not. 
And you can be always with me. You are always with me.' 

' Dating from three o'clock yesterday. My perpetual 
influence could not begin earlier, or you would not have been 
so much out of humour before.' 

' Three o'clock yesterday ! That is your date. I thought 
I had seen you first in February.' 

' Your gallantry is really unanswerable. But (lowering her 
voice) nobody speaks except ourselves, and it is rather too 
much to be talking nonsense for the entertainment of seven 
silent people.' 

* I say nothing of which I am ashamed,' replied he, with 
lively impudence. ' I saw you first in February. Let every- 
body on the hill hear me if they can. Let my accents swell to 
Mickleham on one side, and Dorking on the other. I saw 
you first in February.' And then whispering, — ' Our com- 
panions are excessively stupid. What shall we do to rouse 
them ? Any nonsense will serve. They shall talk. Ladies 
and gentlemen, I am ordered by Miss Woodhouse (who, where- 
ever she is, presides,) to say, that she desires to know what 
you are all thinking of 

Some laughed, and answered good-humouredly. Miss 
Bates said a great deal ; Mrs. Elton swelled at the idea of 
Miss Woodhouse's presiding ; Mr. Knightley's answer was the 
most distinct. 

'Is Miss Woodhouse sure that she would like to hear what 
we all are thinking of?' 

' Oh no, no ! ' cried Emma, laughing as carelessly as she 

333 



EMMA 

could, — *upon no account in the world. It is the very last 
thing I would stand the brunt of just now. Let me hear any- 
thing rather than what you are all thinking of. I will not say 
quite all. There are one or two, perhaps (glancing at Mr. 
Weston and Harriet), whose thoughts I might not be afraid 
of knowing.' 

'It is a sort of thing,' cried Mrs. Elton emphatically, 
* which / should not have thought myself privileged to inquire 
into. Though, perhaps, as the chaperon of the party — / never 
was in any circle — exploring parties — young ladies — married 
women — ' 

Her mutterings were chiefly to her husband ; and he mur- 
mured, in reply 

' Very true, my love, very true. Exactly so, indeed — quite 
unheard of — but some ladies say anything. Better pass it off 
as a joke. Everybody knows what is due to you,'' 

' It will not do,' whispered Frank to Emma ; ' they are most 
of them affronted. I will attack them with more address. 
Ladies and gentlemen, I am ordered by Miss Woodhouse to 
say that she waives her right of knowing exactly what you may 
all be thinking of, and only requires something very enter- 
taining from each of you, in a general way. Here are seven 
of you, besides myself (who, she is pleased to say, am very 
entertaining already), and she only demands from each of you, 
either one thing very clever, be it prose or verse, original or 
repeated ; or two things moderately clever ; or three things 
very dull indeed ; and she engages to laugh heartily at them 
all.' 

' Oh ! very well,' exclaimed Miss Bates ; ' then I need not 
be uneasy. " Three things very dull indeed." That will just 
do for me, you know. I shall be sure to say three dull things 
as soon as ever I open my mouth, shan't I ? (looking round 
with the most good-humoured dependence on everybody's 
assent). Do not you all think I shall ? ' 

Emma could not resist. 

' Ah ! ma'am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, 
but you will be limited as to the number, — only three at once.' 

Miss Bates, deceived by the mock ceremony of her manner, 
did not immediately catch her meaning ; but, when it burst on 
her, it could not anger, though a slight blush showed that it 
could pain her. 

334 



EMMA 

* Ah ! well — to be sure. Yes, I see what she means (turn- 
ing to Mr. Knightley), and I will try to hold my tongue. I 
must make myself very disagreeable, or she would not have 
said such a thing to an old friend.' 

' I like your plan,' cried Mr. Weston. ' Agreed, agreed. 
I will do my best. I am making a conundrum. How will a 
conundrum reckon ? ' 

' Low, I am afraid, sir, very low,' answered his son ; ' but we 
shall be indulgent, especially to any one who leads the way.' 

' No, no,' said Emma, ' it will not reckon low. A conun- 
drum of Mr. Weston's shall clear him and his next neighbour. 
Come, sir, pray let me hear it.' 

* I doubt its being very clever myself,' said Mr. Weston. 
' It is too much a matter of fact ; but here it is. — What two 
letters of the alphabet are there that express perfection ? ' 

* What two letters ! — express perfection ! I am sure I do 
not know.' 

' Ah ! you will never guess. You (to Emma), I am certain, 
will never guess. I will tell you. M and A. Em — ma. 
Do you understand ? ' 

Understanding and gratification came together. It might 
be a very indifferent piece of wit ; but Emma found a great 
deal to laugh at and enjoy in it ; and so did Frank and 
Harriet. It did not seem to touch the rest of the party 
equally ; some looked very stupid about it ; and Mr. Knightley 
gravely said — 

' This explains the sort of clever thing that is wanted, and 
Mr. Weston has done very well for himself; but he must have 
knocked up everybody else. Perfection should not have come 
quite so soon.' 

' Oh ! for myself, I protest I must be excused,' said Mrs. 
Elton. * / really cannot attempt — I am not at all fond of the 
sort of thing. I had an acrostic once sent to me upon my 
own name, which I was not at all pleased with. I knew who 
it came from. An abominable puppy ! You know who I 
mean (nodding to her husband). These kind of things are 
very well at Christmas, when one is sitting round the fire ; but 
quite out of place, in my opinion, when one is exploring about 
the country in summer. Miss Woodhouse must excuse me. 
I am not one of those who have witty things at everybody's 
service. I do not pretend to be a wit. I have a great deal 

335 



EMMA 

of vivacity In my own way, but I really must be allowed to 
judge when to speak, and when to hold my tongue. Pass us, 
if you please, Mr. Churchill. Pass Mr. E., Knightley, Jane, 
and myself. We have nothing clever to say, — not one of 
us.' 

'Yes, yes, pray pass me^ added her husband, with a sort 
of sneering consciousness ; ' / have nothing to say that can 
entertain Miss Woodhouse, or any other young lady. An 
old married man — quite good for nothing. Shall we walk, 
Augusta ? ' 

' With all my heart. I am really tired of exploring so long 
on one spot. Come, Jane, take my other arm.' 

Jane declined it, however, and the husband and wife 
walked off. ' Happy couple ! ' said Frank Churchill, as soon 
as they were out of hearing ; ' how well they suit one another ! 
Very lucky — marrying as they did, upon an acquaintance 
formed only in a public place ! They only knew each other, I 
think, a few weeks in Bath ! Peculiarly lucky ! for as to any 
real knowledge of a person's disposition that Bath, or any 
pubHc place, can give — it is all nothing; there can be no 
knowledge. It is only by seeing women in their own homes, 
among their own set, just as they always are, that you can 
form any just judgment. Short of that, it is all guess and 
luck — and will generally be ill-luck. How many a man has 
committed himself on a short acquaintance, and rued it all the 
rest of his life ! ' 

Miss Fairfax, who had seldom spoken before, except among 
her own confederates, spoke now. 

' Such things do occur, undoubtedly.' She was stopped by 
a cough. Frank Churchill turned towards her to listen. 

' You were speaking,' said he gravely. She recovered her 
voice. 

' I was only going to observe, that though such unfortunate 
circumstances do sometimes occur both to men and women, 
I cannot imagine them to be very frequent. A hasty and 
imprudent attachment may arise — but there is generally time 
to recover from it afterwards. I would be understood to mean, 
that it can be only weak, irresolute characters (whose happi- 
ness must be always at the mercy of chance) who wdll suffer 
an unfortunate acquaintance to be an inconvenience, an 
oppression, for ever.' 



EMMA 

He made no answer ; merely looked, and bowed in sub- 
mission ; and soon afterwards said, in a lively tone — 

' Well, I have so little confidence in my own judgment, 
that whenever I marry, I hope somebody will choose my wife 
for me. Will you ? (turning to Emma). Will you choose a 
wife for me ? I am sure I should like anybody fixed on by 
you. You provide for the family, you know (with a smile at 
his father). Find somebody for me. I am in no hurry. 
Adopt her ; educate her.' 

' And make her like myself.' 

' By all means, if you can.' 

' Very well. I undertake the commission. You shall have 
a charming wife.' 

* She must be very lively, and have hazel eyes. I care 
for nothing else. I shall go abroad for a couple of years 
— and when I return, I shall come to you for my wife. 
Remember.' 

Emma was in no danger of forgetting. It was a commis- 
sion to touch every favourite feeling. Would not Harriet be 
the very creature described ? Hazel eyes excepted, two years 
more might make her all that he wished. He might even 
have Harriet in his thoughts at the moment ; who could say ? 
Referring the education to her seemed to imply it. 

' Now, ma'am,' said Jane to her aunt, ' shall we join Mrs. 
Elton?' 

' If you please, my dear. With all my heart. I am quite 
ready. I was ready to have gone with her, but this will do 
just as well. We shall soon overtake her. There she is — no, 
that's somebody else. That's one of the ladies in the Irish 
car party, not at all like her. Well, I declare ' 

They walked off, followed in half a minute by Mr. 
Knightley. Mr. Weston, his son, Emma, and Harriet, only 
remained ; and the young man's spirits now rose to a pitch 
almost unpleasant. Even Emma grew tired at last of flattery 
and merriment, and wished herself rather walking quietly 
about with any of the others, or sitting almost alone, and quite 
unattended to, in tranquil observation of the beautiful views 
beneath her. The appearance of the servants looking out for 
them to give notice of the carriages was a joyful sight ; and 
even the bustle of collecting and preparing to depart, and the 
solicitude of Mrs. Elton to have her carriage first, were gladly 

z 337 



EMMA 

endured, in the prospect of the quiet drive home which was to 
close the very questionable enjoyments of this day of pleasure. 
Such another scheme, composed of so many ill-assorted people, 
she hoped never to be betrayed into again. 

While waiting for the carriage, she found Mr. Knightley by 
her side. He looked around, as if to see that no one were 
near, and then said — 

' Emma, I must once more speak to you as I have been 
used to do : a privilege rather endured than allowed, perhaps ; 
but I must still use it. I cannot see you acting wrong, with- 
out a remonstrance. How could you be so unfeeling to Miss 
Bates ? How could you be so insolent in your wit to a woman 
of her character, age, and situation ? Emma, I had not 
thought it possible.' 

Emma recollected, blushed, was sorry, but tried to laugh it 
oflf. 

' Nay, how could I help saying what I did ? Nobody could 
have helped it. It was not so very bad. I daresay she did 
not understand me.' 

' I assure you she did. She felt your full meaning. She 
has talked of it since. I wish you could have heard how she 
talked of it — with what candour and generosity. I wish you 
could have heard her honouring your forbearance, in being 
able to pay her such attentions, as she was for ever receiving 
from yourself and your father, when her society must be so 
irksome.' 

' Oh ! ' cried Emma, ' I know there is not a better creature 
in the world : but you must allow that what is good and what 
is ridiculous are most unfortunately blended in her.' 

' They are blended,' said he, ' I acknowledge ; and, were 
she prosperous, I could allow much for the occasional pre- 
valence of the ridiculous over the good. Were she a woman 
of fortune, I would leave her every harmless absurdity to take 
its chance, I would not quarrel with you for any liberties of 
manner. Were she your equal in situation — but, Emma, 
consider how far this is from being the case. She is poor ; 
she has sunk from the comforts she was born to ; and if she 
live to old age, must probably sink more. Her situation should 
secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed ! You, 
whom she had known from an infant, whom she had seen grow 
up from a period when her notice was an honour, — to have 

338 



i 



EMMA 

you now, in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, 
laugh at her, humble her — and before her niece, too — and 
before others, many of whom (certainly some) would be 
entirely guided by yottr treatment of her. This is not pleasant 
to you, Emma — and it is very far from pleasant to me ; but I 
must, I will, — I will tell you truths while I can ; satisfied with 
proving myself your friend by very faithful counsel, and 
trusting that you will some time or other do me greater 
justice than you can do now.' 

While they talked, they were advancing towards the 
carriage ; it was ready ; and, before she could speak again, he 
had handed her in. He had misinterpreted the feelings 
which had kept her face averted and her tongue motionless. 
They were combined only of anger against herself, mortifica- 
tion, and deep concern. She had not been able to speak ; 
and, on entering the carriage, sank back for a moment over- 
come ; then reproaching herself for having taken no leave, 
making no acknowledgment, parting in apparent sullenness, 
she looked out with voice and hand eager to show a dif- 
ference ; but it was just too late. He had turned away, and 
the horses were in motion. She continued to look back, 
but in vain ; and soon, with what appeared unusual speed, 
they were half-way down the hill, and everything left far 
behind. She was vexed beyond what could have been ex- 
pressed — almost beyond what she could conceal. Never 
had she felt so agitated, mortified, grieved, at any circum- 
stance in her life. She was most forcibly struck. The truth 
of his representation there was no denying. She felt it at 
her heart. How could she have been so brutal, so cruel, to 
Miss Bates ! How could she have exposed herself to such 
ill opinion in any one she valued ! And how suffer him to 
leave her without saying one word of gratitude, of concurrence, 
of common kindness ! 

Time did not compose her. As she reflected more, she 
seemed but to feel it more. She never had been so depressed. 
Happily it was not necessary to speak. There was only 
Harriet, who seemed not in spirits herself, fagged, and very 
willing to be silent ; and Emma felt the tears running down 
her cheeks almost all the way home, without being at any 
trouble to check them, extraordinary as they were. 

339 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XLIV 

The wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma's 
thoughts all the evening. How it might be considered by 
the rest of the party, she could not tell. They, in their 
different homes, and their different ways, might be looking 
back on it with pleasure ; but in her view it was a morning 
more completely misspent, more totally bare of rational 
satisfaction at the time, and more to be abhorred in recollec- 
tion, than any she had ever passed. A whole evening of 
backgammon with her father was felicity to it. There^ 
indeed, lay real pleasure, for there she was giving up the 
sweetest hours of the twenty-four to his comfort ; and feeling 
that, unmerited as might be the degree of his fond affection and 
confiding esteem, she could not, in her general conduct, be 
open to any severe reproach. As a daughter, she hoped she 
was not without a heart. She hoped no one could have said 
to her, ' How could you be so unfeeling to your father ? — I 
must, I will tell you truths while I can.' Miss Bates should 
never again — no, never! If attention, in future, could do 
away the past, she might hope to be forgiven. She had been 
often remiss, her conscience told her so ; remiss, perhaps, 
more in thought than fact ; scornful, ungracious. But it 
should be so no more. In the warmth of true contrition, she 
would call upon her the very next morning, and it should be 
the beginning, on her side, of a regular, equal, kindly 
intercourse. 

She was just as determined when the morrow came, and 
went early, that nothing might prevent her. It was not un- 
likely, she thought, that she might see Mr. Knightley in her 
way ; or, perhaps, he might come in while she were paying 
her visit. She had no objection. She would not be ashamed 
of the appearance of the penitence so justly and truly hers. 
Her eyes were towards Don well as she walked, but she saw 
him not. 

'The ladies were all at home.' She had never rejoiced 
at the sound before, nor ever before entered the passage, nor 
walked up the stairs, with any wish of giving pleasure, but in 

340 



EMMA 

conferring obligation, or of deriving it, except in subsequent 
ridicule. 

There was a bustle on her approach ; a good deal of mov- 
ing and talking. She heard Miss Bates's voice ; something 
was to be done in a hurry ; the maid looked frightened and 
awkward ; hoped she would be pleased to wait a moment, 
and then ushered her in too soon. The aunt and niece 
seemed both escaping into the adjoining room. Jane she 
had a distinct glimpse of, looking extremely ill ; and, before 
the door had shut them out, she heard Miss Bates saying, 
' Well, my dear, I shall say you are laid down upon the bed, 
and I am sure you are ill enough.' 

Poor old Mrs. Bates, civil and humble as usual, looked as 
if she did not quite understand what was going on. 

* I am afraid Jane is not very well,' said she, ' but I do 
not know ; they tell me she is well. I daresay my daughter 
will be here presently. Miss Woodhouse. I hope you find a 
chair. I wish Hetty had not gone. I am very little able — 
have you a chair, ma'am ? Do you sit where you like ? I am 
sure she will be here presently.' 

Emma seriously hoped she would. She had a moment's 
fear of Miss Bates keeping away from her. But Miss Bates 
soon came — 'Very happy and obliged,' — but Emma's con- 
science told her that there was not the same cheerful volu- 
bility as before, — less ease of look and manner. A very 
friendly inquiry after Miss Fairfax, she hoped, might lead 
the way to a return of old feelings. The touch seemed 
immediate. 

' Ah, Miss Woodhouse, how kind you are ! I suppose 
you have heard — and are come to give us joy. This does 
not seem much like joy, indeed, in me (twinkling away a tear 
or two) ; but it will be very trying for us to part with her, 
after having had her so long ; and she has a dreadful head- 
ache just now, writing all the morning : such long letters, you 
know, to be written to Colonel Campbell and Mrs. Dixon. 
" My dear," said I, "you will blind yourself," for tears were 
in her eyes perpetually. One cannot wonder, one cannot 
wonder. It is a great change ; and though she is amazingly 
fortunate, — such a situation, I suppose, as no young woman 
before ever met with on first going out ; do not think us ungrate- 
ful, Miss Woodhouse, for such surprising good fortune (again 

341 



EMMA 

dispersing her tears) — but, poor dear soul ; if you were to see 
what a headache she has. When one is in great pain, you 
know one cannot feel any blessing quite as it may deserve. 
She is as low as possible. To look at her, nobody would 
think how delighted and happy she is to have secured such a 
situation. You will excuse her not coming to you, she is not 
able, she is gone into her own room. I want her to lie down 
upon the bed. " My dear," said I, " I shall say you are laid 
down upon the bed " : but, however, she is not ; she is walking 
about the room. But, now that she has written her letters, 
she says she shall soon be well. She will be extremely sorry 
to miss seeing you. Miss Woodhouse, but your kindness will 
excuse her. You were kept waiting at the door ; I was quite 
ashamed ; but somehow there was a little bustle ; for it so 
happened, that we had not heard the knock ; and, till you 
were on the stairs, we did not know anybody was coming. 
" It is only Mrs. Cole," said I, " depend upon it ; nobody else 
would come so early." — " Well," said she, " it must be borne 
some time or other, and it may as well be now." But then 
Patty came in, and said it was you. " Oh ! " said I, " it is Miss 
Woodhouse, I am sure you will like to see her." — " I can see 
nobody," said she, and up she got, and would go away ; and 
that was what made us keep you waiting ; and extremely 
sorry and ashamed we were. " If you must go, my dear," said 
I, " you must, and I will say you are laid down upon the bed." ' 

Emma was most sincerely interested. Her heart had been 
long growing kinder towards Jane ; and this picture of her 
present sufferings acted as a cure of every former ungenerous 
suspicion, and left her nothing but pity; and the remembrance 
of the less just and less gentle sensations of the past obliged 
her to admit that Jane might very naturally resolve on seeing 
Mrs. Cole, or any other steady friend, when she might not 
bear to see herself. She spoke as she felt, with earnest regret 
and solicitude ; sincerely wishing that the circumstances which 
she collected from Miss Bates to be now actually determined 
on, might be as much for Miss Fairfax's advantage and com- 
fort as possible. ' It must be a severe trial to them all. She 
had understood it was to be delayed till Colonel Campbell's 
return.' 

' So very kind ! ' replied Miss Bates ; ' but you are always 
kind.* 

342 



EMMA 

There was no bearing such an ' always ' ; and, to break 
through her dreadful gratitude, Emma made the direct in- 
quiry of — 

' Where, may I ask, is Miss Fairfax going ? ' 

* To a Mrs. Smallridge, — charming woman, — most superior, 
— to have the charge of her three little girls, — delightful 
children. Impossible that any situation could be more replete 
with comfort ; if we except, perhaps, Mrs. Suckling's own 
family, and Mrs. Bragge's ; but Mrs. Smallridge is intimate 
with both, and in the very same neighbourhood : — lives only 
four miles from Maple Grove. Jane will be only four miles 
from Maple Grove.' 

* Mrs. Elton, I suppose, has been the person to whom 
Miss Fairfax owes ' 

'Yes, our good Mrs. Elton. The most indefatigable, true 
friend. She would not take a denial. She would not let Jane 
say " No " ; for when Jane first heard of it (it was the day 
before yesterday, the very morning we were at Donwell), when 
Jane first heard of it, she was quite decided against accepting 
the offer, and for the reasons you mention ; exactly as you 
say, she had made up her mind to close with nothing till 
Colonel Campbell's return, and nothing should induce her to 
enter into any engagement at present — and so she told Mrs. 
Elton over and over again — and I am sure I had no more 
idea that she would change her mind ; — but that good Mrs. 
Elton, whose judgment never fails her, saw farther than I did. 
It is not everybody that would have stood out in such a kind 
way as she did, and refused to take Jane's answer ; but she 
positively declared she would not write any such denial yester- 
day as Jane wished her ; she would wait — and sure enough, 
yesterday evening, it was all settled that Jane should go. 
Quite a surprise to me ! I had not the least idea ! — Jane took 
Mrs. Elton aside, and told her at once, that upon thinking 
over the advantages of Mrs. Suckling's situation, she had 
come to the resolution of accepting it. I did not know a word 
of it till it was all settled.' 

' You spent the evening with Mrs. Elton ? ' 

* Yes, all of us ; Mrs. Elton would have us come. It was 
settled so, upon the hill, while we were walking about with Mr. 
Knightley. " You imist all spend your evening with us," said 
she — " I positively must have you all come." ' 

343 



EMMA 

' Mr. Knightley was there too, was he ? ' 

' No, not Mr. Knightley ; he declined it from the first ; and 
though I thought he would come, because Mrs. Elton declared 
she' would not let him off, he did not ; but my mother, and 
Jane, and I, were all there, and a very agreeable evening we 
had. Such kind friends, you know, Miss Woodhouse, one 
must always find agreeable, though everybody seemed rather 
fagged after the morning's party. Even pleasure, you know, 
is fatiguing — and I cannot say that any of them seemed very 
much to have enjoyed it. However, / shall always think it a 
very pleasant party, and feel extremely obliged to the kind 
friends who included me in it.' 

' Miss Fairfax, I suppose, though you were not aware of it, 
had been making up her mind the whole day.' 

' I daresay she had.' 

' Whenever the time may come, it must be unwelcome to 
her and all her friends — but I hope her engagement will have 
every alleviation that is possible — I mean, as to the character 
and manners of the family.' 

' Thank you, dear Miss Woodhouse. Yes, indeed, there is 
everything in the world that can make her happy in it. Ex- 
cept the Sucklings and Bragges, there is not such another 
nursery establishment, so liberal and elegant, in all Mrs. 
Elton's acquaintance. Mrs. Smallridge, a most delightful 
woman ! A style of living almost equal to Maple Grove — 
and as to the children, except the little Sucklings and little 
Bragges, there are not such elegant sweet children anywhere. 
Jane will be treated with such regard and kindness ! It will 
be nothing but pleasure, a life of pleasure. And her salary — 
I really cannot venture to name her salary to you, Miss Wood- 
house. Even you, used as you are to great sums, would 
hardly believe that so much could be given to a young person 
Hke Jane.' 

' Ah, madam,' cried Emma, ' if other children are at all 
like what I remember to have been myself, I should think five 
times the amount of what I have ever yet heard named as a 
salary on such occasions dearly earned.' 

' You are so noble in your ideas.' 

'And when is Miss Fairfax to leave you ?' 

' Very soon, very soon indeed ; that's the worst of it. 
Within a fortnight. Mrs. Smallridge is in a great hurry. My 

344 



EMMA 

poor mother does not know how to bear it. So then, I try to 
put it out of her thoughts, and say, " Come, ma'am, do not let 
us think about it any more." ' 

' Her friends must all be sorry to lose her ; and will not 
Colonel and Mrs. Campbell be sorry to find that she has 
engaged herself before their return ? ' 

* Yes ; Jane says she is sure they will ; but yet, this is such 
a situation as she cannot feel herself justified in declining. I 
was so astonished when she first told me what she had been 
saying to Mrs. Elton, and when Mrs. Elton at the same 
moment came congratulating me upon it. It was before tea — 
stay — no, it could not be before tea, because we were just 
going to cards — and yet it was before tea, because I remember 
thinking — oh no, now I recollect, now I have it ; something 
happened before tea, but not that. Mr. Elton was called out 
of the room before tea, old John Abdy's son wanted to speak 
with him. Poor old John, I have a great regard for him ; he 
was clerk to my poor father twenty-seven years ; and now, 
poor old man, he is bed-ridden, and very poorly with the 
rheumatic gout in his joints — I must go and see him to-day ; 
and so will Jane, I am sure, if she gets out at all. And poor 
John's son came to talk to Mr. Elton about relief from the 
parish : he is very well to do himself, you know, being head 
man at the Crown, ostler, and everything of that sort, but still 
he cannot keep his father without some help ; and so, when 
Mr. Elton came back, he told us what John ostler had been 
telling him, and then it came out about the chaise having been 
sent to Randalls to take Mr. Frank Churchill to Richmond. 
That was what happened before tea. It was after tea that 
Jane spoke to Mrs. Elton.' 

Miss Bates would hardly give Emma time to say how per- 
fectly new this circumstance was to her ; but as, without 
supposing it possible that she could be ignorant of any of the 
particulars of Mr. Frank Churchill's going, she proceeded to 
give them all, it was of no consequence. 

What Mr. Elton had learned from the ostler on the sub- 
ject, being the accumulation of the ostler's own knowledge, 
and the knowledge of the servants at Randalls, was, that a 
messenger had come over from Richmond soon after the return 
of the party from Box Hill — which messenger, however, had 
been no more than was expected ; and that Mr. Churchill had 

345 




Seen the Crown chaise pass by. 



EMMA 

sent his nephew a few lines, containing, upon the whole, a 
tolerable account of Mrs. Churchill, and only wishing him not 
to delay coming back beyond the next morning early ; but 
that Mr. Frank Churchill having resolved to go home directly, 
without waiting at all, and his horse seeming to have got a 
cold, Tom had been sent off immediately for the Crown chaise, 
and the ostler had stood out and seen it pass by, the boy 
going a good pace, and driving very steady. 

There was nothing in all this either to astonish or interest, 
and it caught Emma's attention only as it united with the 
subject which already engaged her mind. The contrast be- 
tween Mrs. Churchill's importance in the world, and Jane 
Fairfax's, struck her ; one was everything, the other nothing — 
and she sat musing on the difference of woman's destiny, and 
quite unconscious on what her eyes were fixed, till roused by 
Miss Bates's saying — 

' Ay, I see what you are thinking of, the pianoforte. What 
is to become of that ? Very true. Poor dear Jane was talking 
of it just now. " You must go," said she. " You and I must 
part. You will have no business here. Let it stay, however," 
said she; "give it house-room till Colonel Campbell comes 
back. I shall talk about it to him ; he will settle for me ; he 
will help me out of all my difficulties." — And to this day, I do 
believe, she knows not whether it was his present or his 
daughter's.' 

Now Emma was obliged to think of the pianoforte ; and 
the remembrance of all her former fanciful and unfair con- 
jectures was so little pleasing, that she soon allowed herself to 
believe her visit had been long enough ; and, with a repetition 
of everything that she could venture to say of the good wishes 
which she really felt, took leave. 



CHAPTER XLV 

Emma's pensive meditations, as she walked home, were not 
interrupted ; but on entering the parlour, she found those who 
must rouse her. Mr. Knightley and Harriet had arrived 
during her absence, and were sitting with her father. Mr. 

347 



EMMA 

Knightley immediately got up, and, in a manner decidedly 
graver than usual, said — 

' I would not go away without seeing you, but I have no 
time to spare, and therefore must now be gone directly. I am 
going to London, to spend a few days with John and Isabella. 
Have you anything to send or say, besides the " love " which 
nobody carries ? ' 

' Nothing at all. But is not this a sudden scheme ? ' 
' Yes — rather — I have been thinking of it some little time,' 
Emma was sure he had not forgiven her ; he looked unlike 
himself. Time, however, she thought, would tell him that 
they ought to be friends again. While he stood, as if meaning 
to go, but not going — her father began his inquiries. 

' Well, my dear, and did you get there safely ? — And how 
did you find my worthy old friend and her daughter ? — I dare- 
say they must have been very much obliged to you for coming. 
Dear Emma has been to call on Mrs. and Miss Bates, Mr. 
Knightley, as I told you before. She is always so attentive to 
them.' 

Emma's colour was heightened by this unjust praise ; and 
with a smile and shake of the head, which spoke much, she 
looked at Mr. Knightley. It seemed as if there were an 
instantaneous impression in her favour, as if his eyes received 
the truth from hers, and all that had passed of good in her 
feelings were at once caught and honoured. He looked at 
her with a glow of regard. She was warmly gratified — and in 
another moment still more so, by a little movement of more 
than common friendliness on his part. He took her hand ; — 
whether she had not herself made the first motion, she could 
not say — she might, perhaps, have rather offered it — but he 
took her hand, pressed it, and certainly was on the point of 
carrying it to his lips — when, from some fancy or other, he 
suddenly let it go. Why he should feel such a scruple, why 
he should change his mind when it was all but done, she could 
not perceive. He would have judged better, she thought, if 
he had not stopped. The intention, however, was indubitable; 
and whether it was that his manners had in general so little 
gallantry, or however else it happened, but she thought nothing 
became him more. It was with him, of so simple, yet so 
dignified a nature. She could not but recall the attempt with 
great satisfaction. It spoke such perfect amity. He left them 

348 



EMMA 

immediately afterwards — gone in a moment. He always 
moved with the alertness of a mind which could neither be 
undecided nor dilatory, but now he seemed more sudden than 
usual in his disappearance. 

Emma could not regret her having gone to Miss Bates, but 
she wished she had left her ten minutes earlier ; — it would 
have been a great pleasure to talk over Jane Fairfax's situation 
with Mr. Knightley. Neither would she regret that he should 
be going to Brunswick Square, for she knew how much his 
visit would be enjoyed — but it might have happened at a better 
time — and to have had longer notice of it would have been 
pleasanter. They parted thorough friends, however ; she could 
not be deceived as to the meaning of his countenance, and his 
unfinished gallantry ; — it was all done to assure her that she 
had fully recovered his good opinion. He had been sitting 
with them half an hour, she found. It was a pity that she had 
not come back earlier. 

In the hope of diverting her father's thoughts from the 
disagreeableness of Mr. Knightley's going to London, and 
going so suddenly, and going on horseback, which she knew 
would be all very bad, Emma communicated her news of Jane 
Fairfax, and her dependence on the effect was justified ; it 
supplied a very useful check, — interested, without disturbing 
him. He had long made up his mind to Jane Fairfax's going 
out as governess, and could talk of it cheerfully, but Mr. 
Knightley's going to London had been an unexpected blow. 

' I am very glad, indeed, my dear, to hear she is to be so 
comfortably settled. Mrs. Elton is very good-natured and 
agreeable, and I daresay her acquaintance are just what they 
ought to be. I hope it is a dry situation, and that her health 
will be taken good care of. It ought to be a first object, as I 
am sure poor Miss Taylor's always was with me. You know, 
my dear, she is going to be to this new lady what Miss Taylor 
was to us. And I hope she will be better off in one respect, 
and not be induced to go away after it has been her home so 
long.' 

The following day brought news from Richmond to throw 
everything else into the background. An express arrived at 
Randalls to announce the death of Mrs. Churchill. Though 
her nephew had had no particular reason to hasten back on 
her account, she had not lived above six-and-thirty hours after 

349 



EMMA 

his return. A sudden seizure, of a different nature from any- 
thing foreboded by her general state, had carried her off after 
a short struggle. The great Mrs. Churchill was no more. 

It was felt as such things must be felt. Everybody had a 
degree of gravity and sorrow ; tenderness towards the departed, 
solicitude for the surviving friends ; and, in a reasonable time, 
curiosity to know where she would be buried. Goldsmith tells 
us that when lovely woman stoops to folly, she has nothing to 
do but to die ; and when she stoops to be disagreeable, it is 
equally to be recommended as a clearer of ill fame. Mrs. 
Churchill, after being disliked at least twenty-five years, was 
now spoken of with compassionate allowances. In one point 
she was fully justified. She had never been admitted before 
to be seriously ill. The event acquitted her of all the fanciful- 
ness and all the selfishness of imaginary complaints. 

' Poor Mrs. Churchill ! no doubt she had been suffering a 
great deal : more than anybody had ever supposed — and con- 
tinual pain would try the temper. It was a sad event — a great 
shock — with all her faults, what would Mr. Churchill do with- 
out her ? Mr. Churchill's loss would be dreadful indeed. Mr. 
Churchill would never get over it.' Even Mr. Weston shook 
his head, and looked solemn, and said, ' Ah, poor woman, who 
would have thought it ! ' and resolved that his mourning should 
be as handsome as possible ; and his wife sat sighing and 
moralising over her broad hems with a commiseration and 
good sense true and steady. How it would affect Frank was 
among the earliest thoughts of both. It was also a very early 
speculation with Emma. The character of Mrs. Churchill, the 
grief of her husband — her mind glanced over them both with 
awe and compassion — and then rested with lightened feelings 
on how Frank might be affected by the event, how benefited, 
how freed. She saw in a moment all the possible good. Now 
an attachment to Harriet Smith would have nothing to en- 
counter. Mr. Churchill, independent of his wife, was feared 
by nobody ; an easy, guidable man, to be persuaded into any- 
thing by his nephew. All that remained to be wished was, 
that the nephew should form the attachment, as, with all her 
goodwill in the cause, Emma could feel no certainty of its 
being already formed. 

Harriet behaved extremely well on the occasion, with great 
self-command. Whatever she might feel of brighter hope, she 



ifMMA 

betrayed nothing. Emma was gratified to observe such a 
proof in her of strengthened character, and refrained from any 
allusion that might endanger its maintenance. They spoke, 
therefore, of Mrs. Churchill's death with mutual forbearance. 

Short letters from Frank were received at Randalls, com- 
municating all that was immediately important of their state 
and plans. Mr. Churchill was better than could be expected ; 
and their first removal, on the departure of the funeral for 
Yorkshire, was to be to the house of a very old friend in 
Windsor, to whom Mr. Churchill had been promising a visit 
the last ten years. At present, there was nothing to be done 
for Harriet ; good wishes for the future were all that could yet 
be possible on Emma's side. 

It was a more pressing concern to show attention to Jane 
Fairfax, whose prospects were closing, while Harriet's opened, 
and whose engagements now allowed of no delay in any one 
at Highbury who wished to show her kindness — and with 
Emma it was grown into a first wish. She had scarcely a 
stronger regret than for her past coldness ; and the person, 
whom she had been so many months neglecting, was now the 
very one on whom she would have lavished every distinction 
of regard or sympathy. She wanted to be of use to her ; 
wanted to show a value for her society, and testify respect and 
consideration. She resolved to prevail on her to spend a day 
at Hartfield. A note was written to urge it. The invitation 
was refused, and by a verbal message. ' Miss Fairfax was not 
well enough to write ' ; and when Mr. Perry called at Hartfield, 
the same morning, it appeared that she was so much indis- 
posed as to have been visited, though against her own consent, 
by himself, and that she was suflfering under severe headaches 
and a nervous fever to a degree which made him doubt the 
possibility of her going to Mrs. Smallridge's at the time 
proposed. Her health seemed for the moment completely 
deranged — appetite quite gone — and though there were no 
absolutely alanning symptoms, nothing touching the pulmonary 
complaint, which was the standing apprehension of the family, 
Mr. Perry was uneasy about her. He thought she had under- 
taken more than she was equal to, and that she felt it so 
herself, though she would not own it. Her spirits seemed 
overcome. Her present home, he could not but observe, was 
unfavourable to a nervous disorder ; — confined always to one 



EMMA 

room ; — he could have wished it otherwise ; — and her good 
aunt, though his very old friend, he must acknowledge to be 
not the best companion for an invalid of that description. Her 
care and attention could not be questioned ; they were, in fact, 
only too great. He very much feared that Miss Fairfax 
derived more evil than good from them. Emma listened with 
the warmest concern ; grieved for her more and more, and 
looked around eager to discover some way of being useful. To 
take her — be it only an hour or two — from her aunt, to give 
her change of air and scene, and quiet rational conversation, 
even for an hour or two, might do her good ; and the following 
morning she wrote again to say, in the most feeling language 
she could command, that she would call for her in the carriage 
at any hour that Jane would name — mentioning that she had 
Mr. Perry's decided opinion in favour of such exercise for his 
patient. The answer was only in this short note : — 

' Miss Fairfax's compliments and thanks, but is quite un- 
equal to any exercise.' 

Emma felt that her own note had deserved something 
better ; but it was impossible to quarrel with words whose 
tremulous inequality showed indisposition so plainly, and she 
thought only of how she might best counteract this unwilling- 
ness to be seen or assisted. In spite of the answer, therefore, 
she ordered the carriage, and drove to Mrs. Bates's, in the 
hope that Jane would be induced to join her — but it would not 
do ; — Miss Bates came to the carriage door, all gratitude, and 
agreeing with her most earnestly in thinking an airing might 
be of the greatest service — and everything that message could 
do was tried — but all in vain. Miss Bates was obliged to re- 
turn without success ; Jane was quite unpersuadable ; the mere 
proposal of going out seemed to make her worse. Emma 
wished she could have seen her, and tried her own powers : 
but, almost before she could hint the wish, Miss Bates made it 
appear that she had promised her niece on no account to let 
Miss Woodhouse in. ' Indeed, the truth was, that poor dear 
Jane could not bear to see anybody — anybody at all — Mrs. 
Elton, indeed, could not be denied — and Mrs. Cole had made 
such a point — and Mrs. Perry had said so much — but, except 
them, Jane would really see nobody.' 

Emma did not want to be classed with the Mrs. Eltons, the 
Mrs. Perrys, and the Mrs. Coles, who would force themselves 

352 




Miss Bates came to the carriage door. 



2 A 



EMMA 

anywhere ; neither could she feel any right of preference her- 
self — she submitted, therefore, and only questioned Miss Bates 
further as to her niece's appetite and diet, which she longed 
to be able to assist. On that subject poor Miss Bates was 
very unhappy, and very communicative ; Jane would hardly 
eat anything : — Mr. Perry recommended nourishing food ; but 
everything they could command (and never had anybody such 
good neighbours) was distasteful. 

Emma, on reaching home, called the housekeeper directly 
to an examination of her stores ; and some arrowroot of very 
superior quahty was speedily despatched to Miss Bates with a 
most friendly note. In half an hour the arrowroot was re- 
turned, with a thousand thanks from Miss Bates, but 'dear 
Jane would not be satisfied without its being sent back : it was 
a thing she could not take — and, moreover, she insisted on 
her saying that she was not at all in want of anything.' 

When Emma afterwards heard that Jane Fairfax had been 
seen wandering about the meadows, at some distance from 
Highbury, on the afternoon of the very day on which she had, 
under the plea of being unequal to any exercise, so peremptorily 
refused to go out with her in the carriage, she could have no 
doubt — putting everything together — that Jane was resolved 
to receive no kindness from her. She was sorry, very sorry. 
Her heart was grieved for a state which seemed but the more 
pitiable from this sort of irritation of spirits, inconsistency of 
action, and inequaHty of powers ; and it mortified her that she 
was given so little credit for proper feeling, or esteemed so 
little worthy as a friend : but she had the consolation of know- 
ing that her intentions were good, and of being able to say to 
herself, that could Mr. Knightley have been privy to all her 
attempts of assisting Jane Fairfax, could he even have seen 
into her heart, he would not, on this occasion, have found any- 
thing to reprove. 



CHAPTER XLVI 

One morning, about ten days after Mrs. Churchill's decease, 
Emma was called downstairs to Mr. Weston, who ' could not 
stay five minutes, and wanted particularly to speak with her.' — 

354 



EMMA 

He met her at the parlour door, and hardly asking her how 
she did, in the natural key of his voice, sank it immediately, 
to say, unheard by her father, — 

' Can you come to Randalls at any time this morning ? — 
Do, if it be possible. Mrs. Weston wants to see you. She 
must see you.' 

' Is she unwell?' 

' No, no, not at all — only a little agitated. She would have 
ordered the carriage, and come to you, but she must see you 
alone^ and that, you know (nodding towards her father) — 
Humph ! can you come ? ' 

' Certainly. This moment, if you please. It is impossible 
to refuse what you ask in such a way, but what can be the 
matter ? is she really not ill ? ' 

' Depend upon me, but ask no more questions. You will 
know it all in time. The most unaccountable business ! But 
hush, hush ! ' 

To guess what all this meant was impossible even for 
Emma. Something really important seemed announced by 
his looks ; but, as her friend was well, she endeavoured not 
to be uneasy, and settling it with her father that she would 
take her walk now, she and Mr. Weston were soon out of the 
house together, and on their way at a quick pace for Randalls. 

' Now,' said Emma, when they were fairly beyond the 
sweep gates — ' now, Mr. Weston, do let me know what has 
happened.' 

* No, no,' he gravely replied. ' Don't ask me. I promised 
my wife to leave it all to her. She will break it to you better 
than I can. Do not be impatient, Emma ; it will all come 
out too soon.' 

' Break it to me ! ' cried Emma, standing still with terror. 
' Good God ! Mr. Weston, tell me at once. Something has 
happened in Brunswick Square. I know it has. Tell me, I 
charge you, tell me this moment what it is.' 

' No, indeed, you are mistaken.' 

* Mr. Weston, do not trifle with me. Consider how many 
of my dearest friends are now in Brunswick Square. Which 
of them is it ? I charge you by all that is sacred not to 
attempt concealment.' 

* Upon my word, Emma.' 

' Your word ! why not your honour ! why not say upon 

355 



EMMA 

your honour, that it has nothing to do with any of them? 
Good heavens ! What can be to be broke to me, that does 
relate to one of that family ? ' 

' Upon my honour,' said he very seriously, ' it does not. 
It is not in the smallest degree connected with any human 
being of the name of Knightley.' 

Emma's courage returned, and she walked on. 

' I was wrong,' he continued, ' in talking of its being broke 
to you. I should not have used the expression. In fact, it 
does not concern you, it concerns only myself; — that is, we 
hope. Humph! — In short, my dear Emma, there is no 
occasion to be so uneasy about it. I don't say that it is not a 
disagreeable business, but things might be much worse. If 
we walk fast, we shall soon be at Randalls.' 

Emma found that she must wait ; and now it required little 
effort. She asked no more questions therefore, merely em- 
ployed her own fancy, and that soon pointed out to her the 
probability of its being some money concern, — something just 
come to light, of a disagreeable nature in the circumstances of 
the family ; something which the late event at Richmond had 
brought forward. Her fancy was very active. Half a dozen 
natural children, perhaps, and poor Frank cut off! This, 
though very undesirable, would be no matter of agony to her. 
It inspired little more than an animating curiosity. 

' Who is that gentleman on horseback 1 ' said she, as they 
proceeded ; speaking more to assist Mr. Weston in keeping 
his secret, than with any other view. 

' I do not know. One of the Otways. — Not Frank ; it is 
not Frank, I assure you. You will not see him. He is half- 
way to Windsor by this time.' 

' Has your son been with you, then ? ' 

' Oh yes ; did not you know ? Well, well, never mind.' 

For a moment he was silent ; and then added, in a tone 
much more guarded and demure — • 

' Yes, Frank came over this morning, just to ask us how 
we did.' 

They hurried on, and were speedily at Randalls. — ' Well, 
my dear,' said he, as they entered the room, — ' I have brought 
her, and now I hope you will soon be better : I shall leave you 
together. There is no use in delay. I shall not be far off, if 
you want me.' — And Emma distinctly heard him add, in a 

356 



EMMA 

lower tone, before he quitted the room, — ' I have been as good 
as my word. She has not the least idea.' 

Mrs. Weston was looking so ill, and had an air of so much 
perturbation, that Emma's uneasiness increased ; and the 
moment they were alone, she eagerly said — 

* What is it, my dear friend ? Something of a very unplea- 
sant nature, I find, has occurred ; — do let me know directly 
what it is. I have been walking all this way in complete 
suspense. We both abhor suspense. Do not let mine con- 
tinue longer. It will do you good to speak of your distress, 
whatever it may be.' 

* Have you, indeed, no idea .'' ' said Mrs. Weston in a 
trembling voice. ' Cannot you, my dear Emma — cannot you 
form a guess as to what you are to hear ? ' 

' So far as that it relates to Mr. Frank Churchill, I do 
guess.' 

' You are right. It does relate to him, and I will tell you 
directly' (resuming her work, and seeming resolved against 
looking up). ' He has been here this very morning, on a 
most extraordinary errand. It is impossible to express our 
surprise. He came to speak to his father on a subject, — to 
announce an attachment ' 

She stopped to breathe. Emma thought first of herself, 
and then of Harriet. 

' More than an attachment, indeed,' resumed Mrs. Weston : 
' an engagement — a positive engagement. What will you say, 
Emma — what will anybody say — when it is known that Frank 
Churchill and Miss Fairfax are engaged ; nay, that they have 
been long engaged ? ' 

Emma even jumped with surprise ; and, horror-struck, ex- 
claimed — 

* Jane Fairfax ! Good God ! You are not serious ? You 
do not mean it ? ' 

'You may well be amazed,' returned Mrs. Weston, still 
averting her eyes, and talking on with eagerness, that Emma 
might have time to recover — * you may well be amazed. But 
it is even so. There has been a solemn engagement between 
them ever since October, — formed at Weymouth, and kept a 
secret from everybody. Not a creature knowing it but them- 
selves — neither the Campbells, nor her family, nor his. It is 
so wonderful, that, though perfectly convinced of the fact, it is 

357 



EMMA 

yet almost incredible to myself. I can hardly believe it. I 
thought I knew him.' 

Emma scarcely heard what was said. Her mind was 
divided between two ideas : her own former conversations with 
him about Miss Fairfax ; and poor Harriet : and for some 
time she could only exclaim, and require confirmation, repeated 
confirmation. 

' Well ! ' said she at last, trying to recover herself ; ' this is 
a circumstance which I must think of at least half a day, before 
I can at all comprehend it. What ! — engaged to her all the 
winter — before either of them came to Highbury?' 

' Engaged since October, — secretly engaged. It has hurt 
me, Emma, very much. It has hurt his father equally. Some 
part of his conduct we cannot excuse.' 

Emma pondered a moment, and then replied, — ' I will not 
pretend not to understand you ; and to give you all the relief 
in my power, be assured that no such effect has followed his 
attentions to me, as you are apprehensive of 

Mrs. Weston looked up, afraid to believe ; but Emma's 
countenance was as steady as her words. 

' That you may have less difficulty in believing this boast 
of my present perfect indifference,' she continued, ' I will 
further tell you that there was a period in the early part of 
our acquaintance when I did like him — when I was very much 
disposed to be attached to him ; nay, was attached — and how 
it came to cease, is perhaps the wonder. Fortunately, how- 
ever, it did cease. I have really for some time past, for at 
least these three months, cared nothing about him. You may 
believe me, Mrs. Weston. This is the simple truth.' 

Mrs. Weston kissed her with tears of joy ; and when she 
could find utterance, assured her, that this protestation had 
done her more good than anything else in the world could do. 

' Mr. Weston will be almost as much relieved as myself,' 
said she. ' On this point we have been wretched. It was our 
darling wish that you might be attached to each other, and we 
were persuaded that it was so. Imagine what we have been 
feeling on your account' 

' I have escaped ; and that I should escape, may be a 
matter of grateful wonder to you and myself. But this does 
not acquit hiin^ Mrs. Weston ; and I must say that I think 
him greatly to blame. What right had he to come among us 

358 



EMMA 

with affection and faith engaged, and with manners so very 
disengaged? What right had he to endeavour to please, as 
he certainly did — to distinguish any one young woman with 
persevering attention, as he certainly did, while he really be- 
longed to another ? How could he tell what mischief he might 
be doing ? — How could he tell that he might not be making 
me in love with him? Very wrong, very wrong indeed.' 

' From something that he said, my dear Emma, I rather 
imagine ' 

' And how could she bear such behaviour ? Composure with 
a witness ! to look on, while repeated attentions were offering 
to another woman before her face, and not resent it. That is 
a degree of placidity which I can neither comprehend nor 
respect.' 

' There were misunderstandings between them, Emma ; he 
said so expressly. He had not time to enter into much ex- 
planation. He was here only a quarter of an hour, and in a 
state of agitation which did not allow the full use even of the 
time he could stay — but that there had been misunderstandings 
he decidedly said. The present crisis, indeed, seemed to be 
brought on by them ; and those misunderstandings might very 
possibly arise from the impropriety of his conduct.' 

* Impropriety ! Oh, Mrs. Weston, it is too calm a censure. 
Much, much beyond impropriety ! It has sunk him — I cannot 
say how it has sunk him in my opinion. So unlike what a 
man should be ! None of that upright integrity, that strict 
adherence to truth and principle, that disdain of trick and 
littleness, which a man should display in every transaction of 
his life.' 

* Nay, dear Emma, now I must take his part ; for though 
he has been wrong in this instance, I have known him long 
enough to answer for his having many, very many good 
qualities ; and ' 

' Good God ! ' cried Emma, not attending to her. — ' Mrs. 
Smallridge, too ! Jane actually on the point of going as 
governess! What could he mean by such horrible indelicacy? 
To suffer her to engage herself — to suffer her even to think of 
such a measure ! ' 

' He knew nothing about it, Emma. On this article I can 
fully acquit him. It was a private resolution of hers, not com- 
municated to him, or at least not communicated in a way to 

359 



EMMA 

carry conviction. Till yesterday, I know, he said he was in 
the dark as to her plans. They burst on him, I do not know 
how, but by some letter or message — and it was the discovery 
of what she was doing, of this very project of hers, which 
determined him to come forward at once, own it all to his 
uncle, throw himself on his kindness, and, in short, put an end 
to the miserable state of concealment that had been carrying 
on so long.' 

Emma began to listen better. 

'I am to hear from him soon,' continued Mrs. Weston. 
' He told me at parting that he should soon write ; and he 
spoke in a manner which seemed to promise me many particu- 
lars that could not be given now. Let us wait, therefore, for 
this letter. It may bring many extenuations. It may make 
many things intelligible and excusable which now are not to 
be understood. Don't let us be severe ; don't let us be in a 
hurry to condemn him. Let us have patience. I must love 
him ; and now that I am satisfied on one point, the one 
material point, I am sincerely anxious for its all turning out 
well, and ready to hope that it may. They must both have 
suffered a great deal under such a system of secrecy and 
concealment.' 

' His sufferings,' replied Emma drily, ' do not appear to 
have done him much harm. Well, and how did Mr. Churchill 
take it ? ' 

' Most favourably for his nephew — gave his consent with 
scarcely a difficulty. Conceive what the events of a week 
have done in that family ! While poor Mrs. Churchill lived, 
I suppose there could not have been a hope, a chance, a 
possibility ; but scarcely are her remains at rest in the family 
vault, than her husband is persuaded to act exactly opposite to 
what she would have required. What a blessing it is when 
undue influence does not survive the grave ! — He gave his 
consent with very little persuasion.' 

' Ah ! ' thought Emma, ' he would have done as much for 
Harriet.' 

'This was settled last night, and Frank was off with the 
light this morning. He stopped at Highbury, at the Bates's, 
I fancy, some time, and then came on hither ; but was in such 
a hurry to get back to his uncle, to whom he is just now more 
necessary than ever, that, as I tell you, he could stay with us 

360 



EMMA 

but a quarter of an hour. He was very much agitated — very 
much indeed — to a degree that made him appear quite a 
different creature from anything I had ever seen him before. 
In addition to all the rest, there had been the shock of finding 
her so very unwell, which he had had no previous suspicion of, 
and there was every appearance of his having been feeling a 
great deal.' 

* And do you really believe the affair to have been carrying 
on with such perfect secrecy ? — The Campbells, the Dixons — 
did none of them know of the engagement ? ' 

Emma could not speak the name of Dixon without a little 
blush. 

' None ; not one. He positively said that it had been 
known to no being in the world but their two selves.' 

' Well,' said Emma, ' I suppose we shall gradually grow 
reconciled to the idea, and I wish them very happy. But I 
shall always think it a very abominable sort of proceeding. 
What has it been but a system of hypocrisy and deceit, — 
espionage and treachery ? — To come among us with pro- 
fessions of openness and simplicity ; and such a league in 
secret to judge us all ! — Here have we been the whole winter 
and spring completely duped, fancying ourselves all on an 
equal footing of truth and honour, with two people in the 
midst of us who may have been carrying round, comparing 
and sitting in judgment on sentiments and words that were 
never meant for both to hear. — They must take the conse- 
quence, if they have heard each other spoken of in a way not 
perfectly agreeable ! ' 

* I am quite easy on that head,' replied Mrs. Weston. ' I 
am very sure that I never said anything of either to the other, 
which both might not have heard.' 

' You are in luck. — Your only blunder was confined to my 
ear, when you imagined a certain friend of ours in love with 
the lady.' 

'True. But as I have always had a thoroughly good 
opinion of Miss Fairfax, I never could, under any blunder, 
have spoken ill of her ; and as to speaking ill of him, there I 
must have been safe.' 

At this moment Mr. Weston appeared at a little distance 
from the window, evidently on the watch. His wife gave him 
a look which invited him in ; and, while he was coming round, 

361 



EMMA 

added, — * Now, dearest Emma, let me entreat you to say and 
look everything that may set his heart at ease and incline him 
to be satisfied with the match. Let us make the best of it — 
and, indeed, almost everything may be fairly said in hei favour. 
It is not a connection to gratify ; but if Mr. Churchill does 
not feel that, why should we .'' and it may be a very fortunate 
circumstance for him, — for Frank, I mean, — that he should 
have attached himself to a girl of such steadiness of character 
and good judgment as I have always given her credit for — 
and still am disposed to give her credit for, in spite of this one 
great deviation from the strict rule of right. And how much 
may be said in her situation for even that error ! ' 

' Much, indeed ! ' cried Emma feelingly. ' If a woman 
can ever be excused for thinking only of herself, it is in a 
situation like Jane Fairfax's. — Of such, one may almost say 
that " the world is not theirs, nor the world's law." ' 

She met Mr. Weston on his entrance with a smiling 
countenance, exclaiming — 

' A very pretty trick you have been playing me, upon my 
word ! This was a device, I suppose, to sport with my 
curiosity, and exercise my talent of guessing. But you really 
frightened me. I thought you had lost half your property, at 
least. And here, instead of its being a matter of condolence, 
it turns out to be one of congratulation. — I congratulate you, 
Mr. Weston, with all my heart, on the prospect of having one 
of the most lovely and accomplished young women in England 
for your daughter.' 

A glance or two between him and his wife convinced him 
that all was as right as this speech proclaimed ; and its happy 
effect on his spirits was immediate. His air and voice re- 
covered their usual briskness ; he shook her heartily and 
gratefully by the hand, and entered on the subject in a manner 
to prove that he now only wanted time and persuasion to think 
the engagement no very bad thing. His companions suggested 
only what could palliate imprudence or smooth objections ; 
and by the time they had talked it all over together, and he 
had talked it all over again with Emma, in their walk back to 
Hartfield, he was become perfectly reconciled, and not far 
from thinking it the very best thing that Frank could possibly 
have done. 

362 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XLVII 



* Harriet, poor Harriet ! ' — Those were the words ; in them 
lay the tormenting ideas which Emma could not get rid of, 
and which constituted the real misery of the business to her. 
Frank Churchill had behaved very ill by herself — very ill in 
many ways, — but it was not so much his behaviour as her own^ 
which made her so angry with him. It was the scrape which 
he had drawn her into on Harriet's account, that gave the 
deepest hue to his offence. — Poor Harriet ! to be a second 
time the dupe of her misconceptions and flattery. Mr. 
Knightley had spoken prophetically, when he once said, 
*Emma, you have been no friend to Harriet Smith.' — She 
was afraid she had done her nothing but disservice. — It was 
true that she had not to charge herself in this instance, as in 
the former, with being the sole and original author of the 
mischief; with having suggested such feelings as might 
otherwise never have entered Harriet's imagination ; for 
Harriet had acknowledged her admiration and preference of 
Frank Churchill before she had ever given her a hint on the 
subject ; but she felt completely guilty of having encouraged 
what she might have repressed. She might have prevented 
the indulgence and increase of such sentiments. Her influence 
would have been enough. And now she was very conscious 
that she ought to have prevented them. — She felt that she had 
been risking her friend's happiness on most insufficient grounds. 
Common sense would have directed her to tell Harriet that 
she must not allow herself to think of him, and that there were 
five hundred chances to one against his ever caring for her. 
— ' But with common sense,' she added, ' I am afraid I have 
had little to do.' 

She was extremely angry with herself If she could not 
have been angry with Frank Churchill too, it would have been 
dreadful. — As for Jane Fairfax, she might at least relieve her 
feelings from any present solicitude on her account. Harriet 
would be anxiety enough ; she need no longer be unhappy 
about Jane, whose troubles and whose ill health having, of 
course, the same origin, must be equally under cure. — Her 

363 



EMMA 

days of insignificance and evil were over. — She would soon be 
well, and happy, and prosperous. — Emma could now imagine 
why her own attentions had been slighted. This discovery 
laid many smaller matters open. No doubt it had been from 
jealousy. — In Jane's eyes she had been a rival; and well 
might anything she could offer of assistance or regard be 
repulsed. An airing in the Hartfield carriage would have 
been the rack, and arrowroot from the Hartfield store-room 
must have been poison. She understood it all ; and as far as 
her mind could disengage itself from the injustice and selfish- 
ness of angry feelings, she acknowledged that Jane Fairfax 
would have neither elevation nor happiness beyond her desert. 
But poor Harriet was such an engrossing charge ! There was 
little sympathy to be spared for anybody else. Emma was 
sadly fearful that this second disappointment would be more 
severe than the first. Considering the very superior claims of 
the object, it ought ; and judging by its apparently stronger 
effect on Harriet's mind, it would produce reserve and self- 
command. — She must communicate the painful truth, however, 
and as soon as possible. An injunction of secrecy had been 
among Mr. Weston's parting words. * For the present the 
whole affair was to be completely a secret. Mr. Churchill 
had made a point of it, as a token of respect to the wife he 
had so very recently lost ; and everybody admitted it to be 
no more than due decorum.' — Emma had promised ; but still 
Harriet must be excepted. It was her superior duty. 

In spite of her vexation, she could not help feeling it almost 
ridiculous that she should have the very same distressing and 
delicate office to perform by Harriet which Mrs. Weston had 
just gone through by herself. The intelligence, which had 
been so anxiously announced to her, she was now to be anxiously 
announcing to another. Her heart beat quick on hearing 
Harriet's footstep and voice ; so, she supposed, had poor 
Mrs. Weston felt when she was approaching Randalls. Could 
the event of the disclosure bear an equal resemblance 1 — But 
of that, unfortunately, there could be no chance. 

'Well, Miss Woodhouse,' cried Harriet, coming eagerly 
into the room, ' is not this the oddest news that ever was ? ' 

' What news do you mean,' replied Emma, unable to guess, 
by look or voice, whether Harriet could indeed have received 
any hint. 

364 



EMMA 

'About Jane Fairfax. Did you ever hear anything so 
strange ? Oh — you need not be afraid of owning it to me, 
for Mr. Weston has told me himself. I met him just now. 
He told me it was to be a great secret ; and, therefore, I 
should not think of mentioning it to anybody but you, but 
he said you knew it.' 

' What did Mr. Weston tell you ? ' said Emma, still per- 
plexed. 

' Oh, he told me all about it ; that Jane Fairfax and Mr. 
Frank Churchill are to be married, and that they have been 
privately engaged to one another this long while. How very 
odd!' 

It was, indeed, so odd, Harriet's behaviour was so extremely 
odd, that Emma did not know how to understand it. Her 
character appeared absolutely changed. She seemed to pro- 
pose showing no agitation, or disappointment, or peculiar 
concern in the discovery. Emma looked at her, quite unable 
to speak. 

' Had you any idea,' cried Harriet, ' of his being in love 
with her? — You, perhaps, might. — You (blushing as she 
spoke) who can see into everybody's heart ; but nobody 
else ' 

' Upon my word,' said Emma, ' I begin to doubt my hav- 
ing any such talent. Can you seriously ask me, Harriet, 
whether I imagined him attached to another woman at the 
very time that I was — tacitly, if not openly — encouraging you 
to give way to your own feelings ? — I never had the slightest 
suspicion, till within the last hour, of Mr. Frank Churchill's 
having the least regard for Jane Fairfax. You may be very 
sure that, if I had, I should have cautioned you accordingly.' 

* Me ! ' cried Harriet, colouring, and astonished. * Why 
should you caution me ? — You do not think I care about Mr. 
Frank Churchill.' 

' I am delighted to hear you speak so stoutly on the 
subject,' replied Emma, smiling ; ' but you do not mean to 
deny that there was a time — and not very distant either — 
when you gave me reason to understand that you did care 
about him ? ' 

' Him ! — never, never. Dear Miss Woodhouse, how could 
you so mistake me ? ' (turning away distressed). 

' Harriet,' cried Emma, after a moment's pause, * what do 

365 



EMMA 

you mean ? — Good Heaven ! what do you mean ? — Mistake 
you !— Am I to suppose then ? ' 

She could not speak another word. — Her voice was lost ; 
and she sat down, waiting in great terror till Harriet should 
answer. 

Harriet, who was standing at some distance, and with face 
turned from her, did not immediately say anything ; and 
when she did speak, it was in a voice nearly as agitated as 
Emma's. 

' I should not have thought it possible,' she began, ' that 
you could have misunderstood me ! I know we agreed never 
to name him — but considering how infinitely superior he is 
to everybody else, I should not have thought it possible that 
I could be supposed to mean any other person. Mr. Frank 
Churchill, indeed ! I do not know who would ever look at 
him in the company of the other. I hope I have a better 
taste than to think of Mr. Frank Churchill, who is like 
nobody by his side. And that you should have been so 
mistaken is amazing! — I am sure, but for believing that 
you entirely approved and meant to encourage me in my 
attachment, I should have considered it at first too great a 
presumption almost to dare to think of him. At first, if you 
had not told me that more wonderful things had happened ; 
that there had been matches of greater disparity (those were 
your very words) ; — I should not have dared to give way to 

1 should not have thought it possible But if you^ 

who had always been acquainted with him ' 



' Harriet,' cried Emma, collecting herself resolutely, ' let 
us understand each other now, without the possibility of 
further mistake. Are you speaking of — Mr. Knightley ? ' 

' To be sure I am. I never could have an idea of any- 
body else, — and so I thought you knew. When we talked 
about him, it was clear as possible,' 

* Not quite,' returned Emma, with forced calmness ; ' for 
all that you then said appeared to me to relate to a different 
person. I could almost assert that you had named Mr. 
Frank Churchill. I am sure the service Mr. Frank Churchill 
had rendered you, in protecting you from the gipsies, was 
spoken of.' 

* Oh, Miss Woodhouse, how you do forget ! ' 

* My dear Harriet, I perfectly remember the substance of 

366 



EMMA 

what I said on the occasion. I told you that I did not 
wonder at your attachment ; that, considering the service he 
had rendered you, it was extremely natural : — and you agreed 
to it, expressing yourself very warmly as to your sense of that 
service, and mentioning even what your sensations had been in 
seeing him come forward to your rescue. The impression of it 
is strong on my memory.' 

' Oh dear,' cried Harriet, * now I recollect what you mean ; 
but I was thinking of something very dififerent at the time. 
It was not the gipsies — it was not Mr. Frank Churchill that I 
meant. No ! (with some elevation) I was thinking of a much 
more precious circumstance, — of Mr. Knightley's coming and 
asking me to dance, when Mr. Elton would not stand up with 
me, and when there was no other partner in the room. That 
was the kind action ; that was the noble benevolence and 
generosity ; that was the service which made me begin to feel 
how superior he was to every other being upon earth. 

* Good God ! ' cried Emma, * this has been a most unfor- 
tunate — most deplorable mistake ! What is to be done ? 

'You would not have encouraged me, then, if you had 
understood me. At least, however, I cannot be worse off 
than I should have been, if the other had been the person ; 
and now — it is possible ' 

She paused a few moments. Emma could not speak. 

' I do not wonder. Miss Woodhouse,' she resumed, * that 
you should feel a great difference between the two, as to me 
or as to anybody. You must think one five hundred million 
times more above me than the other. But I hope. Miss 
Woodhouse, that supposing — that if — strange as it may 

appear But you know they were your own words, that 

more wonderful things had happened ; matches of greater 
disparity had taken place than between Mr. Frank Churchill 
and me ; and, therefore, it seems as if such a thing even as 
this may have occurred before ; — and if I should be so for- 
tunate, beyond expression, as to if Mr. Knightley should 

really if he does not mind the disparity, I hope, dear Miss 

Woodhouse, you will not set yourself against it, and try and 
put difficulties in the way. But you are too good for that, I 
am sure.' 

Harriet was standing at one of the windows. Emma 
turned round to look at her in consternation, and hastily said — 

367 



EMMA 

' Have you any idea of Mr. Knightley's returning your 
affection ? ' 

' Yes,' replied Harriet modestly, but not fearfully ; ' I must 
say that I have.' 

Emma's eyes were instantly withdrawn ; and she sat 
silently meditating, in a fixed attitude, for a few minutes. 
A few minutes were sufficient for making her acquainted with 
her own heart. A mind like hers, once opening to suspicion, 
made rapid progress : she touched — she admitted — she 
acknowledged the whole truth. Why was it so much worse 
that Harriet should be in love with Mr. Knightley than with 
Frank Churchill ? Why was the evil so dreadfully increased 
by Harriet's having some hope of a return ? It darted through 
her with the speed of an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry 
no one but herself! 

Her own conduct, as well as her own heart, was before her 
in the same few minutes. She saw it all with a clearness 
which had never blessed her before. How improperly had 
she been acting by Harriet ! How inconsiderate, how indeli- 
cate, how irrational, how unfeeling, had been her conduct ! 
What blindness, what madness, had led her on ! It struck 
her with dreadful force, and she was ready to give it every 
bad name in the world. Some portion of respect for herself, 
however, in spite of all these demerits — some concern for 
her own appearance, and a strong sense of justice by Harriet 
(there would be no need of compassion to the girl who be- 
lieved herself loved by Mr. Knightley — but justice required 
that she should not be made unhappy by any coldness now) — 
gave Emma the resolution to sit and endure further with 
calmness, with even apparent kindness. For her own advan- 
tage, indeed, it was fit that the utmost extent of Harriet's 
hopes should be inquired into ; and Harriet had done nothing 
to forfeit the regard and interest which had been so voluntarily 
formed and maintained — or to deserve to be slighted by the 
person whose counsels had never led her right. Rousing 
from reflection, therefore, and subduing her emotion, she 
turned to Harriet again, and, in a more inviting accent, 
renewed the conversation ; for as to the subject which had first 
introduced it, the wonderful story of Jane Fairfax, that was 
quite sunk and lost. Neither of them thought but of Mr. 
Knightley and themselves. 

368 



J 



EMMA 

Harriet, who had been standing in no unhappy reverie, 
was yet very glad to be called from it by the now encouraging 
manner of such a judge, and such a friend, as Miss Wood- 
house ; and only wanted invitation to give the history of her 
hopes with great though trembling delight. Emma's trem- 
blings, as she asked, and as she listened, were better concealed 
than Harriet's, but they were not less. Her voice was not 
unsteady ; but her mind was in all the perturbation that such 
a development of self, such a burst of threatening evil, such a 
confusion of sudden and perplexing emotions, must create. 
She listened with much inward suffering, but with great 
outward patience, to Harriet's detail. Methodical, or well 
arranged, or very well delivered, it could not be expected to 
be ; but it contained, when separated from all the feebleness 
and tautology of the narration, a substance to sink her spirit ; 
especially with the corroborating circumstances which her own 
memory brought in favour of Mr. Knightley's most improved 
opinion of Harriet. 

Harriet had been conscious of a difference in his behaviour 
ever since those two decisive dances. Emma knew that he 
had, on that occasion, found her much superior to his expecta- 
tion. From that evening, or at least from the time of Miss 
Woodhouse's encouraging her to think of him, Harriet had 
begun to be sensible of his talking to her much more than 
he had been used to do, and of his having, indeed, quite a 
different manner towards her ; — a manner of kindness and 
sweetness. Latterly, she had been more and more aware of 
it. When they had been all walking together, he had so 
often come and walked by her, and talked so very delightfully ! 
— He seemed to want to be acquainted with her. Emma 
knew it to have been very much the case : she had often 
observed the change, to almost the same extent. Harriet 
repeated expressions of approbation and praise from him, — and 
Emma felt them to be in the closest agreement with what she 
had known of his opinion of Harriet. He praised her for 
being without art or affectation ; for having simple, honest, 
generous feelings. She knew that he saw such recommenda- 
tions in Harriet ; he had dwelt on them to her more than 
once. Much that lived in Harriet's memory ; many Httle 
particulars of the notice she had received from him ; a look, a 
speech, a removal from one chair to another, a compliment 
2 B 369 



EMMA 

implied, a preference inferred ; had been unnoticed, because 
unsuspected, by Emma. Circumstances that might swell to 
half an hour's relation, and contained multiplied proofs to her 
who had seen them, had passed undiscerned by her who now 
heard them ; but the two latest occurrences to be mentioned — 
the two of strongest promise to Harriet — were not without 
some degree of witness from Emma herself The first was 
his walking with her apart from the others in the lime walk at 
Donwell, where they had been walking some time before 
Emma came, and he had taken pains (as she was convinced) 
to draw her from the rest to himself; and at first he had 
talked to her in a more particular way than he had ever done 
before, — in a very particular way indeed ! — (Harriet could not 
recall it without a blush). He seemed to be almost asking 
her whether her affections were engaged. But as soon as she 
(Miss Woodhouse) appeared likely to join them, he changed 
the subject, and began talking about farming. The second 
was his having sat talking with her nearly half an hour before 
Emma came back from her visit, the very last morning of his 
being at Hartfield, — though, when he first came in, he had 
said that he could not stay five minutes, — and his having told 
her, during their conversation, that though he must go to 
London, it was very much against his inclination that he left 
home at all, which was much more (as Emma felt) than he 
had acknowledged to her. The superior degree of confidence 
towards Harriet which this one article marked gave her 
severe pain. 

On the subject of the first of the two circumstances, she 
did, after a little reflection, venture the following question : 
— ' Might he not ? — Is not it possible, that when inquiring, as 
you thought, into the state of your affections, he might be 
alluding to Mr. Martin, — he might have Mr. Martin's interest 
in view ? ' But Harriet rejected the suspicion with spirit. 

' Mr. Martin ! No, indeed ! — there was not a hint of Mr. 
Martin. I hope I know better now, than to care for Mr. 
Martin, or to be suspected of it.' 

When Harriet had closed her evidence, she appealed to her 
dear Miss Woodhouse, to say whether she had not good 
ground for hope. 

' I never should have presumed to think of it at first,' said 
she, 'but for you. You told me to observe him carefully, 

370 



EMMA 

and let his behaviour be the rule of mine — and so I have. 
But now I seem to feel that I may deserve him ; and that if 
he does choose me, it will not be anything so very wonderful.' 

The bitter feelings occasioned by this speech, the many 
bitter feelings, made the utmost exertion necessary on Emma's 
side, to enable her to say in reply — 

' Harriet, I will only venture to declare that Mr. Knightley 
is the last man in the world who would intentionally give any 
woman the idea of his feeling for her more than he really 
does.' 

Harriet seemed ready to worship her friend for a sentence 
so satisfactory ; and Emma was only saved from raptures and 
fondness, which at that moment would have been dreadful 
penance, by the sound of her father's footsteps. He was 
coming through the hall. Harriet was too much agitated to 
encounter him. ' She could not compose herself — Mr. Wood- 
house would be alarmed — she had better go'; — with most 
ready encouragement from her friend, therefore, she passed 
off through another door — and the moment she was gone, this 
was the spontaneous burst of Emma's feelings : * O God ! that 
I had never seen her ! ' 

The rest of the day, the following night, were hardly enough 
for her thoughts. She was bewildered amidst the confusion 
of all that had rushed on her within the last few hours. Every 
moment had brought a fresh surprise ; and every surprise 
must be matter of humiliation to her. — How to understand it 
all ! How to understand the deceptions she had been thus 
practising on herself, and living under ! — The blunders, the 
blindness of her own head and heart ! — She sat still, she 
walked about, she tried her own room, she tried the shrubbery 
— in every place, every posture, she perceived that she had 
acted most weakly ; that she had been imposed on by others 
in a most mortifying degree ; that she had been imposing on 
herself in a degree yet more mortifying ; that she was wretched, 
and should probably find this day but the beginning of 
wretchedness. 

To understand, thoroughly understand, her own heart, was 
the first endeavour. To that point went every leisure moment 
which her father's claims on her allowed, and every moment 
of involuntary absence of mind. 

How long had Mr. Knightley been so dear to her, as every 

371 



EMMA 

feeling declared him now to be ? When had his influence, 
such influence begun ? When had he succeeded to that place 
in her affection which Frank Churchill had once for a short 
period occupied ? — She looked back ; she compared the two 
— compared them, as they had always stood in her estimation, 
from the time of the latter's becoming known to her — and as 
they must at any time have been compared by her, had it — 
oh ! had it, by any blessed felicity, occurred to her to institute 
the comparison. She saw that there never had been a time 
when she did not consider Mr. Knightley as infinitely the 
superior, or when his regard for her had not been infinitely 
the most dear. She saw, that in persuading herself, in fancy- 
ing, in acting to the contrary, she had been entirely under a 
delusion, totally ignorant of her own heart — and, in short, that 
she had never really cared for Frank Churchill at all ! 

This was the conclusion of the first series of reflection. 
This was the knowledge of herself, on the first question of 
inquiry, which she reached ; and without being long in 
reaching it. She was most sorrowfully indignant ; ashamed 
of every sensation but the one revealed to her — her affection 
for Mr. Knightley. Every other part of her mind was dis- 
gusting. 

With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the 
secret of everybody's feelings ; with unpardonable arrogance 
proposed to arrange everybody's destiny. She was proved to 
have been universally mistaken ; and she had not quite done 
nothing — for she had done mischief. She had brought evil 
on Harriet, on herself, and, she too much feared, on Mr. 
Knightley. Were this most unequal of all connections to take 
place, on her must rest all the reproach of having given it a 
beginning ; for his attachment she must beUeve to be produced 
only by a consciousness of Harriet's ; — and even were this not 
the case, he would never have known Harriet at all but for 
her folly. 

Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith! — It was an union to 
distance every wonder of the kind. The attachment of Frank 
Churchill and Jane Fairfax became commonplace, threadbare, 
stale in the comparison, exciting no surprise, presenting no 
disparity, affording nothing to be said or thought. Mr. 
Knightley and Harriet Smith ! Such an elevation on her side ! 
Such a debasement on his ! It was horrible to Emma to 

372 



EMMA 

think how it must sink him in the general opinion, to foresee 
the smiles, the sneers, the merriment it would prompt at his 
expense ; the mortification and disdain of his brother, the 
thousand inconveniences to himself. Could it be ? No ; it 
was impossible. And yet it was far, very far, from impossible. 
— Was it a new circumstance for a man of first-rate abilities 
to be captivated by very inferior powers ? Was it new for 
one, perhaps too busy to seek, to be the prize of a girl who 
would seek him ? Was it new for anything in this world to 
be unequal, inconsistent, incongruous — or for chance and 
circumstance (as second causes) to direct the human fate ? 

Oh ! had she never brought Harriet forward ! Had she 
left her where she ought, and where he had told her she 
ought ! Had she not, with a folly which no tongue could 
express, prevented her marrying the unexceptionable young 
man who would have made her happy and respectable in the 
line of life to which she ought to belong, all would have been 
safe ; none of this dreadful sequel would have been. 

How Harriet could ever have had the presumption to raise 
her thoughts to Mr. Knightley ! — How she could dare to fancy 
herself the chosen of such a man till actually assured of it ! 
But Harriet was less humble, had fewer scruples than formerly. 
Her inferiority, whether of mind or situation, seemed little felt. 
She had seemed more sensible of Mr. Elton's being to stoop 
in marrying her, than she now seemed of Mr. Knightley's. 
Alas ! was not that her own doing too ? Who had been at 
pains to give Harriet notions of self-consequence but herself ? 
Who but herself had taught her that she was to elevate 
herself if possible, and that her claims were great to a high 
worldly establishment ? If Harriet, from being humble, were 
grown vain, it was her doing too. 



CHAPTER XLVIII 

Till now that she was threatened with its loss Emma had 
never known how much of her happiness depended on being 
first with Mr. Knightley, first in interest and affection. 
Satisfied that it was so, and feeling it her due, she had en- 

373 



EMMA 

joyed it without reflection ; and only in the dread of being 
supplanted, found how inexpressibly important it had been. 
Long, very long, she felt she had been first ; for, having no 
female connections of his own, there had been only Isabella 
whose claims could be compared with hers, and she had al- 
ways known exactly how far he loved and esteemed Isabella. 
She had herself been first with him for many years past. She 
had not deserved it ; she had often been negligent or perverse, 
slighting his advice, or even wilfully opposing him, insensible 
of half his merits, and quarrelling with him because he would 
not acknowledge her false and insolent estimate of her own — 
but still, from family attachment and habit, and thorough 
excellence of mind, he had loved her, and watched over her 
from a girl, with an endeavour to improve her, and an anxiety 
for her doing right, which no other creature had at all shared. 
In spite of all her faults, she knew she was dear to him ; 
might she not say, very dear ? When the suggestions of hope, 
however, which must follow here, presented themselves, she 
could not presume to indulge them. Harriet Smith might 
think herself not unworthy of being peculiarly, exclusively, 
passionately loved by Mr. Knightley. She could not. She 
could not flatter herself with any idea of blindness in his 
attachment to her. She had received a very recent proof of 
its impartiality. How shocked had he been by her behaviour 
to Miss Bates ! How directly, how strongly, had he expressed 
himself to her on the subject ! Not too strongly for the 
oflfence — but far, far too strongly to issue from any feeling 
softer than upright justice and clear-sighted goodwill. She 
had no hope, nothing to deserve the name of hope, that he 
could have that sort of affection for herself which was now in 
question ; but there was a hope (at times a slight one, at 
times much stronger) that Harriet might have deceived 
herself, and be over-rating his regard for her. Wish it she 
must, for his sake — be the consequence nothing to herself, but 
his remaining single all his life. Could she be secure of that, 
indeed, of his never marrying at all, she believed she should 
be perfectly satisfied. Let him but continue the same Mr. 
Knightley to her and her father, the same Mr. Knightley to 
all the world ; let Donwell and Hartfield lose none of their 
precious intercourse of friendship and confidence, and her 
peace would be fully secured. Marriage, in fact, would not 

374 



EMMA 

do for her. It would be incompatible with what she owed to 
her father, and with what she felt for him. Nothing should 
separate her from her father. She would not marry, even if 
she were asked by Mr. Knightley. 

It must be her ardent wish that Harriet might be disap- 
pointed ; and she hoped that when able to see them together 
again she might at least be able to ascertain what the 
chances for it were. She should see them henceforward with 
the closest observance ; and, wretchedly as she had hitherto 
misunderstood even those she was watching, she did not know 
how to admit that she could be blinded here. He was 
expected back every day. The power of observation would be 
soon given — frightfully soon it appeared when her thoughts 
were in one course. In the meanwhile, she resolved against 
seeing Harriet. It would do neither of them good, it would 
do the subject no good, to be talking of it further. She was 
resolved not to be convinced, as long as she could doubt, and 
yet had no authority for opposing Harriet's confidence. To 
talk would be only to irritate. She wrote to her, therefore, 
kindly, but decisively, to beg that she would not, at present, 
come to Hartfield ; acknowledging it to be her conviction that 
all further confidential discussion of one topic had better be 
avoided ; and hoping, that if a few days were allowed to pass 
before they met again, except in the company of others — she 
objected only to a tete-a-tete — they might be able to act as 
if they had forgotten the conversation of yesterday. Harriet 
submitted, and approved, and was grateful. 

This point was just arranged, when a visitor arrived to tear 
Emma's thoughts a little from the one subject which had 
engrossed them, sleeping or waking, the last twenty -four 
hours — Mrs. Weston, who had been calling on her daughter- 
in-law elect, and took Hartfield in her way home, almost as 
much in duty to Emma as in pleasure to herself, to relate all 
the particulars of so interesting an interview. 

Mr. Weston had accompanied her to Mrs. Bates, and gone 
through his share of this essential attention most handsomely ; 
but she having then induced Miss Fairfax to join her in an 
airing, was now returned with much more to say, and much 
more to say with satisfaction, than a quarter of an hour spent 
in Mrs. Bates's parlour, with all the incumbrance of awkward 
feelings, could have afforded. 

375 



EMMA 

A little curiosity Emma had ; and she made the most of it 
while her friend related. Mrs. Weston had set off to pay the 
visit in a good deal of agitation herself ; and in the first place 
had wished not to go at all at present, to be allowed merely to 
write to Miss Fairfax instead, and to defer this ceremonious 
call till a little time had passed, and Mr. Churchill could be 
reconciled to the engagement's becoming known ; as, consider- 
ing everything, she thought such a visit could not be paid 
without leading to reports : but Mr. Weston had thought 
differently ; he was extremely anxious to show his approbation 
to Miss Fairfax and her family, and did not conceive that any 
suspicion could be excited by it ; or if it were, that it would be 
of any consequence ; for ' such things,' he observed, ' always 
got about.' Emma smiled, and felt that Mr. Weston had very 
good reason for saying so. They had gone, in short ; and 
very great had been the evident distress and confusion of the 
lady. She had hardly been able to speak a word, and every 
look and action had shown how deeply she was suffering from 
consciousness. The quiet, heartfelt satisfaction of the old lady, 
and the rapturous delight of her daughter, who proved even 
too joyous to talk as usual, had been a gratifying, yet almost 
an affecting, scene. They were both so truly respectable in 
their happiness, so disinterested in every sensation ; thought 
so much of Jane ; so much of everybody, and so little of 
themselves, that every kindly feeling was at work for them. 
Miss Fairfax's recent illness had offered a fair plea for Mrs. 
Weston to invite her to an airing ; she had drawn back and 
declined at first, but, on being pressed, had yielded ; and, in 
the course of their drive, Mrs. Weston had, by gentle 
encouragement, overcome so much of her embarrassment as 
to bring her to converse on the important subject. Apologies 
for her seemingly ungracious silence in their first reception, 
and the warmest expressions of the gratitude she was always 
feeling towards herself and Mr. Weston, must necessarily open 
the cause ; but when these effusions were put by, they had 
talked a good deal of the present and of the future state of the 
engagement. Mrs. Weston was convinced that such conver- 
sation must be the greatest relief to her companion, pent up 
within her own mind as everything had so long been, and was 
very much pleased with all that she had said on the subject. 

' On the misery of what she had suffered, during the 

376 



I 



EMMA 

concealment of so many months,' continued Mrs. Weston, ' she 
was energetic. This was one of her expressions. " I will not 
say, that since I entered into the engagement I have not had 
some happy moments ; but I can s^y that I have never 
known the blessing of one tranquil hour" : — and the quivering 
lip, Emma, which uttered it, was an attestation that I felt at my 
heart.' 

* Poor girl ! ' said Emma. * She thinks herself wrong, then, 
for having consented to a private engagement ? ' 

' Wrong ! No one, I believe, can blame her more than 
she is disposed to blame herself. " The consequence," said 
she, " has been a state of perpetual suffering to me ; and so 
it ought. But after all the punishment that misconduct can 
bring, it is still not less misconduct. Pain is no expiation. I 
never can be blameless. I have been acting contrary to all 
my sense of right ; and the fortunate turn that everything has 
taken, and the kindness I am now receiving, is what my 
conscience tells me ought not to be. Do not imagine, 
madam," she continued, " that I was taught wrong. Do not 
let any reflection fall on the principles or the care of the 
friends who brought me up. The error has been all my own ; 
and I do assure you that, with all the excuse that present 
circumstances may appear to give, I shall yet dread making 
the story known to Colonel Campbell." ' 

' Poor girl ! ' said Emma again. ' She loves him, then, ex- 
cessively, I suppose. It must have been from attachment 
only, that she could be led to form the engagement. Her 
affection must have overpowered her judgment.' 

' Yes, I have no doubt of her being extremely attached to 
him.' 

* I am afraid,' returned Emma, sighing, ' that I must often 
have contributed to make her unhappy.' 

' On your side, my love, it was very innocently done. But 
she probably had something of that in her thoughts, when 
alluding to the misunderstandings which he had given us hints 
of before. One natural consequence of the evil she had 
involved herself in,' she said, 'was that of making her un- 
reasonable. The consciousness of having done amiss had 
exposed her to a thousand inquietudes, and made her captious 
and irritable to a degree that must have been — that had been 
— hard for him to bear. " I did not make the allowances," 

377 



EMMA 

said she, "which I ought to have done, for his temper and 
spirits — his deHghtful spirits, and that gaiety, that playfulness 
of disposition, which, under any other circumstances, would, I 
am sure, have been as constantly bewitching to me as they 
were at first." She then began to speak of you, and of the 
great kindness you had shown her during her illness ; and, 
with a blush which showed me how it was all connected, 
desired me, whenever I had an opportunity, to thank you — 
I could not thank you too much — for every wish and every 
endeavour to do her good. She was sensible that you had 
never received any proper acknowledgment from herself.' 

' If I did not know her to be happy now,' said Emma, 
seriously, 'which, in spite of every little drawback from her 
scrupulous conscience, she must be, I could not bear these 
thanks ; for, oh, Mrs. Weston, if there were an account drawn 

up of the evil and the good I have done Miss Fairfax 

Well (checking herself and trying to be more lively), this is all 
to be forgotten. You are very kind to bring me these inter- 
esting particulars : they show her to the greatest advantage. 
I am sure she is very good : I hope she will be very happy. 
It is fit that the fortune should be on his side, for I think the 
merit will be all on hers.' 

Such a conclusion could not pass unanswered by Mrs. 
Weston. She thought well of Frank in almost every respect ; 
and what was more, she loved him very much, and her 
defence was, therefore, earnest. She talked with a great deal 
of reason, and at least equal affection ; but she had too much 
to urge for Emma's attention : it was soon gone to Brunswick 
Square or to Donwell : she forgot to attempt to listen ; and 
when Mrs. Weston ended with 'We have not yet had the 
letter we are so anxious for, you know, but I hope it will soon 
come,' she was obliged to pause before she answered, and at 
last obliged to answer at random, before she could at all 
recollect what letter it was which they were so anxious for. 

* Are you well, my Emma ? ' was Mrs. Weston's parting 
question. 

' Oh, perfectly. I am always well, you know. Be sure to 
give me intelligence of the letter as soon as possible.' 

Mrs. Weston's communications furnished Emma with more 
food for unpleasant reflection, by increasing her esteem and 
compassion, and her sense of past injustice towards Miss 



EMMA 

Fairfax. She bitterly regretted not having sought a closer 
acquaintance with her, and blushed for the envious feelings 
which had certainly been, in some measure, the cause. Had 
she followed Mr. Knightley's known wishes, in paying that 
attention to Miss Fairfax which was every way her due ; had 
she tried to know her better ; had she done her part towards 
intimacy ; had she endeavoured to find a friend there instead 
of in Harriet Smith ; she must, in all probability, have been 
spared from every pain which pressed on her now. Birth, 
abilities, and education had been equally marking one as an 
associate for her, to be received with gratitude ; and the other 
— what was she ? Supposing even that they had never become 
intimate friends ; that she had never been admitted into Miss 
Fairfax's confidence on this important matter, — which was 
most probable, — still, in knowing her as she ought, and as she 
might, she must have been preserved from the abominable 
suspicions of an improper attachment to Mr. Dixon, which she 
had not only so foolishly fashioned and harboured herself, but 
had so unpardonably imparted ; an idea which she greatly 
feared had been made a subject of material distress to the 
delicacy of Jane's feelings, by the levity or carelessness of 
Frank Churchill's. Of all the sources of evil surrounding the 
former, since her coming to Highbury, she was persuaded that 
she must herself have been the worst. She must have been a 
perpetual enemy. They never could have been all three to- 
gether, without her having stabbed Jane Fairfax's peace in a 
thousand instances ; and on Box Hill, perhaps, it had been the 
agony of a mind that would bear no more. 

The evening of this day was very long, and melancholy, at 
Hartfield. The weather added what it could of gloom. A 
cold stormy rain set in, and nothing of July appeared but in 
the trees and shrubs, which the wind was despoiling, and the 
length of the day, which only made such cruel sights the 
longer visible. 

The weather affected Mr. Woodhouse ; and he could only 
be kept tolerably comfortable by almost ceaseless attention on 
his daughter's side, and by exertions which had never cost her 
half so much before. It reminded her of their first forlorn 
tite-d.-tete^ on the evening of Mrs. Weston's wedding-day ; but 
Mr. Knightley had walked in then, soon after tea, and dissi- 
pated every melancholy fancy. Alas ! such delightful proofs 

379 



EMMA 

of Hartfield's attraction, as those sort of visits conveyed, might 
shortly be over. The picture which she had then drawn of 
the privations of the approaching winter had proved erroneous ; 
no friends had deserted them, no pleasures had been lost. 
But her present forebodings she feared would experience no 
similar contradiction. The prospect before her now was 
threatening to a degree that could not be entirely dispelled — 
that might not be even partially brightened. If all took place 
that might take place among the circle of her friends. Hart- 
field must be comparatively deserted ; and she left to cheer 
her father with the spirits only of ruined happiness. 

The child to be born at Randalls must be a tie there even 
dearer than herself; and Mrs. Weston's heart and time would 
be occupied by it. They should lose her ; and probably, in 
great measure, her husband also. Frank Churchill would 
return among them no more ; and Miss Fairfax, it was reason- 
able to suppose, would soon cease to belong to Highbury. 
They would be married, and settled either at or near Ens- 
combe. All that were good would be withdrawn ; and if to 
these losses the loss of Don well were to be added, what would 
remain of cheerful or of rational society within their reach ? 
Mr. Knightley to be no longer coming there for his evening 
comfort ! No longer walking in at all hours, as if ever willing 
to change his own home for theirs ! How was it to be endured? 
And if he were to be lost to them for Harriet's sake ; if he 
were to be thought of hereafter, as finding in Harriet's society 
all that he wanted ; if Harriet were to be the chosen, the first, 
the dearest, the friend, the wife to whom he looked for all the 
best blessings of existence ; what could be increasing Emma's 
wretchedness but the reflection, never far distant from her 
mind, that it had been all her own work ? 

When it came to such a pitch as this, she was not able to 
refrain from a start, or a heavy sigh, or even from walking 
about the room for a few seconds ; and the only source whence 
anything like consolation or composure could be drawn was 
in the resolution of her own better conduct, and the hope that, 
however inferior in spirit and gaiety might be the following 
and every future winter of her life to the past, it would yet 
find her more rational, more acquainted with herself, and 
leave her less to regret w^hen it were gone. 

380 



EMMA 



CHAPTER XLIX 

The weather continued much the same all the following morn- 
ing ; and the same loneliness, and the same melancholy, 
seemed to reign at Hartfield ; but in the afternoon it cleared ; 
the wind changed into a softer quarter; the clouds were 
carried off ; the sun appeared ; it was summer again. With 
all the eagerness which such a transition gives, Emma resolved 
to be out of doors as soon as possible. Never had the ex- 
quisite sight, smell, sensation of nature, tranquil, warm, and 
brilliant after a storm, been more attractive to her. She 
longed for the serenity they might gradually introduce ; and 
on Mr. Perry's coming in soon after dinner, with a disengaged 
hour to give her father, she lost no time in hurrying into the 
shrubbery. There, with spirits freshened, and thoughts a 
little relieved, she had taken a few turns, when she saw Mr. 
Knightley passing through the garden door, and coming 
towards her. It was the first intimation of his being returned 
from London. She had been thinking of him the moment 
before, as unquestionably sixteen miles distant. There was 
time only for the quickest arrangement of mind. She must be 
collected and calm. In half a minute they were together. 
The ' How d'ye do's ' were quiet and constrained on each side. 
She asked after their mutual friends ; they were all well. 
When had he left them ? Only that morning. He must have 
had a wet ride. Yes. He meant to walk with her, she found. 
' He had just looked into the dining-room, and as he was not 
wanted there, preferred being out of doors.' She thought he 
neither looked nor spoke cheerfully ; and the first possible 
cause for it, suggested by her fears, was, that he had perhaps 
been communicating his plans to his brother, and was pained 
by the manner in which they had been received. 

They walked together. He was silent. She thought he 
was often looking at her, and trying for a fuller view of her 
face than it suited her to give. And this belief produced 
another dread. Perhaps he wanted to speak to her of his 
attachment to Harriet ; he might be watching for encourage- 
ment to begin. She did not, could not, feel equal to lead the 

381 



EMMA 

way to any such subject. He must do it all himself. Yet she 
could not bear this silence. With him it was most unnatural. 
She considered, resolved, and, trying to smile, began — 

'You have some news to hear, now you are come back, 
that will rather surprise you.' 

' Have I ? ' said he quietly, and looking at her ; ' of what 
nature ? ' 

* Oh, the best nature in the world — a wedding.' 

After waiting a moment, as if to be sure she intended to 
say no more, he replied — 

' If you mean Miss Fairfax and Frank Churchill, I have 
heard that already.' 

'How is it possible ? ' cried Emma, turning her glowing 
cheeks towards him ; for while she spoke, it occurred to her 
that he might have called at Mrs. Goddard's in his way. 

' I had a few lines on parish business from Mr. Weston this 
morning, and at the end of them he gave me a brief account 
of what had happened.' 

Emma was quite relieved, and could presently say, with a 
little more composure — 

' You probably have been less surprised than any of us, for 
you have had your suspicions. I have not forgotten that you 
once tried to give me a caution. I wish I had attended to it 
— but (with a sinking voice and a heavy sigh) I seem to have 
been doomed to blindness.' 

For a moment or two nothing was said, and she was un- 
suspicious of having excited any particular interest, till she 
found her arm drawn within his, and pressed against his heart, 
and heard him thus saying, in a tone of great sensibility, 
speaking low — 

'Time, my dearest Emma, time will heal the wound. 
Your own excellent sense ; your exertions for your father's 

sake ; I know you will not allow yourself ' Her arm was 

pressed again, as he added, in a more broken and subdued 
accent, ' The feelings of the warmest friendship — indignation 
— abominable scoundrel ! ' And in a louder, steadier tone, he 
concluded with, ' He will soon be gone. They will soon be in 
Yorkshire. I am sorry for her. She deserves a better fate.' 

Emma understood him ; and as soon as she could recover 
from the flutter of pleasure excited by such tender consider- 
ation, replied — 

382 



EMMA 

* You are very kind, but you are mistaken, and I must set 
you right. I am not in want of that sort of compassion. My 
blindness to what was going on led me to act by them in a 
way that I must always be ashamed of, and I was very foolishly 
tempted to say and do many things which may well lay me 
open to unpleasant conjectures, but I have no other reason to 
regret that I was not in the secret earlier.' 

'Emma,' cried he, looking eagerly at her, 'are you, 
indeed ? ' — but checking himself — ' No, no, I understand you 
— forgive me — I am pleased that you can say even so much. 
He is no object of regret, indeed ! and it will not be very 
long, I hope, before that becomes the acknowledgment of 
more than your reason. Fortunate that your affections were 
not further entangled ! — I could never, I confess, from your 
manners, assure myself as to the degree of what you felt — 
I could only be certain that there was a preference — and a 
preference which I never believed him to deserve. He is a 
disgrace to the name of man. And is he to be rewarded with 
that sweet young woman ? — Jane, Jane, you will be a miserable 
creature.' 

' Mr. Knightley,' said Emma, trying to be lively, but really 
confused, — ' I am in a very extraordinary situation. I cannot 
let you continue in your error ; and yqt, perhaps, since my 
manners gave such an impression, I have as much reason to 
be ashamed of confessing that I never have been at all attached 
to the person we are speaking of, as it might be natural for a 
woman to feel in confessing exactly the reverse. But I never 
have.' 

He listened in perfect silence. She wished him to speak, 
but he would not. She supposed she must say more before 
she were entitled to his clemency ; but it was a hard case to 
be obliged still to lower herself in his opinion. She went on, 
however — 

' I have very little to say for my own conduct. I was 
tempted by his attentions, and allowed myself to appear 
pleased. An old story, probably, — a common case, — and no 
more than has happened to hundreds of my sex before ; and 
yet it may not be the more excusable in one who sets up as 
I do for understanding. Many circumstances assisted the 
temptation. He was the son of Mr. Weston — he was continu- 
ally here — I always found him very pleasant — and, in short, 

383 



EMMA 

for (with a sigh) let me swell out the causes ever so ingeniously, 
they all centre in this at last — my vanity was flattered, and I 
allowed his attentions. Latterly, however, for some time 
indeed, I have had no idea of their meaning anything. I 
thought them a habit, a trick, nothing that called for serious- 
ness on my side. He has imposed on me, but he has not 
injured me. I have never been attached to him. And now I 
can tolerably comprehend his behaviour. He never wished to 
attach me. It was merely a blind to conceal his real situation 
with another. It was his object to blind all about him ; and 
no one, I am sure, could be more effectually blinded than my- 
self — except that I was 7iot blinded — that it was my good 
fortune — that, in short, I was somehow or other safe from 
him.' 

She had hoped for an answer here — for a few words to say 
that her conduct was at least inteUigible ; but he was silent ; 
and, as far as she could judge, deep in thought. At last, and 
tolerably in his usual tone, he said — 

'I have never had a high opinion of Frank Churchill. I 
can suppose, however, that I may have under-rated him. My 
acquaintance with him has been but trifling. And even if I 
have not under-rated him hitherto, he may yet turn out well. 
With such a woman he has a chance. I have no motive for 
wishing him ill — and for her sake, whose happiness will be 
involved in his good character and conduct, I shall certainly 
wish him well.' 

' I have no doubt of their being happy together,' said 
Emma ; ' I believe them to be very mutually and very sin- 
ceriely attached.' 

' He is a most fortunate man,' returned Mr. Knightley, with 
energy. ' So early in life — at three-and-twenty — a period 
when, if a man chooses a wife, he generally chooses ill. At 
three-and-twenty to have drawn such a prize ! What years of 
felicity that man, in all human calculation, has before him ! 
Assured of the love of such a woman — the disinterested love, 
for Jane Fairfax's character vouches for her disinterestedness ; 
everything in his favour, — equality of situation — I mean, as 
far as regards society, and all the habits and manners that are 
important ; equality in every point but one — and that one, 
since the purity of her heart is not to be doubted, such as 
must increase his felicity, for it will be his to bestow the only 

384 



EMMA 

advantages she wants. A man would always wish to give a 
woman a better home than the one he takes her from ; and he 
who can do it, where there is no doubt of her regard, must, 
I think, be the happiest of mortals. Frank Churchill is, 
indeed, the favourite of fortune. Everything turns out for his 
good. He meets with a young woman at a watering-place, 
gains her affection, cannot even weary her by negligent treat- 
ment — and had he and all his family sought round the world 
for a perfect wife for him, they could not have found her 
superior. His aunt is in the way. His aunt dies. He has 
only to speak. His friends are eager to promote his happi- 
ness. He has used everybody ill — and they are all delighted 
to forgive him. He is a fortunate man, indeed ! ' 

' You speak as if you envied him.' 

'And I do envy him, Emma. In one respect he is the 
object of my envy.' 

Emma could say no more. They seemed to be within 
half a sentence of Harriet, and her immediate feeling was to 
avert the subject, if possible. She made her plan ; she would 
speak of something totally different — the children in Brunswick 
Square ; and she only waited for breath to begin, when Mr. 
Knightley startled her by saying — 

' You will not ask me what is the point of envy. You are 
determined, I see, to have no curiosity. You are wise — but 
/ cannot be wise. Emma, I must tell what you will not ask, 
though I may wish it unsaid the next moment.' 

' Oh then, don't speak it, don't speak it,' she eagerly cried. 
' Take a little time, consider, do not commit yourself.' 

'Thank you,' said he, in an accent of deep mortification, 
and not another syllable followed. 

Emma could not bear to give him pain. He was wishing 
to confide in her — perhaps to consult her ; — cost her what it 
would, she would listen. She might assist his resolution, or 
reconcile him to it ; she might give just praise to Harriet, or, 
by representing to him his own independence, relieve him from 
that state of indecision which must be more intolerable than 
any alternative to such a mind as his. They had reached the 
house. 

' You are going in, I suppose,' said he. 

' No,' replied Emma, quite confirmed by the depressed 
manner in which he still spoke, ' I should like to take another 
2C 385 



EMMA 

turn. Mr. Perry is not gone.' And, after proceeding a few 
steps, she added, — ' I stopped you ungraciously just now, Mr. 
Knightley, and, I am afraid, gave you pain. But if you have 
any wish to speak openly to me as a friend, or to ask my 
opinion of anything that you may have in contemplation — as 
a friend, indeed, you may command me. I will hear whatever 
you like. I will tell you exactly what I think.' 

' As a friend ! ' repeated Mr. Knightley. ' Emma, that I 
fear is a word — No, I have no wish. Stay, yes, why should 
I hesitate? I have gone too far already for concealment. 
Emma, I accept your offer, extraordinary as it may seem, I 
accept it, and refer myself to you as a friend. Tell me, then, 
have I no chance of ever succeeding ? ' 

He stopped in his earnestness to look the question, and 
the expression of his eyes overpowered her. 

' My dearest Emma,' said he, ' for dearest you will always 
be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, 
most beloved Emma — tell me at once. Say " No " if it is to 
be said.' She could really say nothing. ' You are silent,' he 
cried, with great animation ; ' absolutely silent ! at present I 
ask no more.' 

Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this 
moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest 
dream was perhaps the most prominent feeling. 

' I cannot make speeches, Emma ' : — he soon resumed, and 
in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as 
was tolerably convincing. ' If I loved you less, I might be 
able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You 
hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and 
lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in 
England would have borne it. Bear with the truths I would 
tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with 
them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recom- 
mend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent 
lover. But you understand me. Yes, you see, you under- 
stand my feelings — and will return them if you can. At 
present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.' 

While he spoke, Emma's mind was most busy, and, with 
all the wonderful velocity of thought, had been able — and yet 
without losing a word — to catch and comprehend the exact 
truth of the whole ; to see that Harriet's hopes had been 

386 




He stopped to look the question. 



EMMA 

entirely groundless, a mistake, a delusion, as complete a delusion 
as any of her own — that Harriet was nothing ; that she was 
everything herself; that what she had been saying relative to 
Harriet had been all taken as the language of her own feelings ; 
and that her agitation, her doubts, her reluctance, her dis- 
couragement, had been all received as discouragement from 
herself And not only was there time for these convictions, 
with all their glow of attendant happiness ; there was time 
also to rejoice that Harriet's secret had not escaped her, and 
to resolve that it need not and should not. It was all the 
service she could now render her poor friend ; for as to any 
of that heroism of sentiment which might have prompted her 
to entreat him to transfer his affection from herself to Harriet, 
as infinitely the most worthy of the two — or even the more 
simple sublimity of resolving to refuse him at once and for 
ever, without vouchsafing any motive, because he could not 
marry them both, Emma had it not. She felt for Harriet with 
pain and with contrition ; but no flight of generosity run mad, 
opposing all that could be probable or reasonable, entered her 
brain. She had led her friend astray, and it would be a 
reproach to her for ever ; but her judgment was as strong as 
her feelings, and as strong as it had ever been before, in 
reprobating any such alliance for him, as most unequal and 
degrading. Her way was clear, though not quite smooth. 
She spoke then, on being so entreated. What did she say ? 
Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does. She 
said enough to show there need not be despair — and to invite 
him to say more himself He had despaired at one period ; 
he had received such an injunction to caution and silence, as 
for the time crushed every hope ; — she had begun by refusing 
to hear him. The change had perhaps been somewhat sudden ; 
— her proposal of taking another turn, her renewing the con- 
versation which she had just put an end to, might be a little 
extraordinary. She felt its inconsistency ; but Mr. Knightley 
was so obliging as to put up with it, and seek no further 
explanation. 

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any 
human disclosure ; seldom can it happen that something is 
not a Httle disguised, or a little mistaken ; but where, as in 
this case, though the conduct is mistaken, the feelings are not, 
it may not be very material. Mr. Knightley could not impute 

388 



EMMA 

to Emma a more relenting heart than she possessed, or a heart 
more disposed to accept of his. 

He had, in fact, been wholly unsuspicious of his own 
influence. He had followed her into the shrubbery with no 
idea of trying it. He had come, in his anxiety to see how 
she bore Frank Churchill's engagement, with no selfish view, 
no view at all, but of endeavouring, if she allowed him an 
opening, to soothe or to counsel her. The rest had been 
the work of the moment, the immediate effect of what he 
heard, on his feelings. The delightful assurance of her total 
indifference towards Frank Churchill, of her having a heart 
completely disengaged from him, had given birth to the hope 
that, in time, he might gain her affection himself; — but it 
had been no present hope — he had only, in the momentary 
conquest of eagerness over judgment, aspired to be told that 
she did not forbid his attempt to attach her. The superior 
hopes which gradually opened were so much the more en- 
chanting. The affection which he had been asking to be 
allowed to create if he could, was already his. Within half 
an hour he had passed from a thoroughly distressed state of 
mind, to something so like perfect happiness, that it could 
bear no other name. 

Her change was equal. This one half-hour had given to 
each the same precious certainty of being beloved, had cleared 
from each the same, degree of ignorance, jealousy, or distrust. 
On his side, there had been a long-standing jealousy, old as 
the arrival, or even the expectation, of Frank Churchill. He 
had been in love with Emma, and jealous of Frank Churchill, 
from about the same period, one sentiment having probably 
enlightened him as to the other. It was his jealousy of 
Frank Churchill that had taken him from the country. The 
Box Hill party had decided him on going away. He would 
save himself from witnessing again such permitted, encouraged 
attentions. He had gone to learn to be indifferent. But he 
had gone to a wrong place. There was too much domestic happi- 
ness in his brother's house ; women wore too amiable a form 
in it ; Isabella was too much like Emma — differing only in 
those striking inferiorities which always brought the other in 
brilliancy before him, for much to have been done, even had 
his time been longer. He had stayed on, however, vigorously, 
day after day — till this very morning's post had conveyed the 

389 



EMMA 

history of Jane Fairfax. Then, with the gladness which must 
be felt, nay, which he did not scruple to feel, having never 
believed Frank Churchill to be at all deserving Emma, was 
there so much fond solicitude, so much keen anxiety for her, 
that he could stay no longer. He had ridden home through 
the rain ; and had walked up directly after dinner, to see how 
this sweetest and best of all creatures, faultless in spite of all 
her faults, bore the discovery. 

He had found her agitated and low. Frank Churchill was 
a villain. He heard her declare that she had never loved 
him. Frank Churchill's character was not desperate. She 
was his own Emma, by hand and word, when they returned 
into the house ; and if he could have thought of Frank 
Churchill then, he might have deemed him a very good sort 
of fellow. 



CHAPTER L 

What totally different feelings did Emma take back into the 
house from what she had brought out ! — she had then been 
only daring to hope for a little respite of suffering ; — she was 
now in an exquisite flutter of happiness, and such happiness, 
moreover, as she believed must still be greater when the 
flutter should have passed away. 

They sat down to tea — the same party round the same 
table — how often it had been collected ! and how often had 
her eyes fallen on the same shrubs in the lawn, and observed 
the same beautiful effect of the western sun ! But never in 
such a state of spirits, never in anything like it ; and it was 
with difficulty that she could summon enough of her usual 
self to be the attentive lady of the house, or even the attentive 
daughter. 

Poor Mr. Woodhouse little suspected what was plotting 
against him in the breast of that man whom he was so cordially 
welcoming, and so anxiously hoping might not have taken cold 
from his ride. Could he have seen the heart, he would have 
cared very little for the lungs ; but without the most distant 
imagination of the impending evil, without the slightest per- 
ception of anything extraordinary, in the looks or ways of 

390 



EMMA 

either, he repeated to them very comfortably all the articles of 
news he had received from Mr. Perry, and talked on with 
much self-contentment, totally unsuspicious of what they could 
have told him in return. 

As long as Mr. Knightley remained with them, Emma's 
fever continued ; but when he was gone, she began to be a 
little tranquillised and subdued, and in the course of the sleep- 
less night, which was the tax for such an evening, she found 
one or two such very serious points to consider, as made her 
feel that even her happiness must have some alloy. Her 
father — and Harriet. She could not be alone without feeling 
the full weight of their separate claims ; and how to guard the 
comfort of both to the utmost, was the question. With respect 
to her father, it was a question soon answered. She hardly 
knew yet what Mr. Knightley would ask ; but a very short 
parley with her own heart produced the most solemn resolution 
of never quitting her father. She even wept over the idea of 
it, as a sin of thought. While he lived, it must be only an 
engagement ; but she flattered herself, that if divested of the 
danger of drawing her away, it might become an increase of 
comfort to him. How to do her best by Harriet was of more 
difficult decision ; how to spare her from any unnecessary 
pain ; how to make her any possible atonement ; how to 
appear least her enemy. On these subjects her perplexity 
and distress were very great — and her mind had to pass again 
and again through every bitter reproach and sorrowful regret 
that had ever surrounded it. She could only resolve at last 
that she would still avoid a meeting with her, and communi- 
cate all that need be told by letter ; that it would be inexpress- 
ibly desirable to have her removed just now for a time from 
Highbury, and — indulging in one scheme more — nearly 
resolve that it might be practicable to get an invitation for 
her to Brunswick Square. Isabella had been pleased with 
Harriet; and a few weeks spent in London must give her 
some amusement. She did not think it in Harriet's nature to 
escape being benefited by novelty and variety, by the streets, 
the shops, and the children. At any rate, it would be a proof 
of attention and kindness in herself, from whom everything 
was due ; a separation for the present ; an averting of the evil 
day, when they must all be together again. 

She rose early, and wrote her letter to Harriet ; an employ- 

391 



EMMA 

ment which left her so very serious, so nearly sad, that Mr. 
Knightley, in walking up to Hartfield to breakfast, did not 
arrive at all too soon ; and half an hour stolen afterwards to 
go over the same ground again with him, literally and figura- 
tively, was quite necessary to reinstate her in a proper share of 
the happiness of the evening before. 

He had not left her long, by no means long enough for her 
to have the slightest inclination for thinking of anybody else, 
when a letter was brought her from Randalls — a very thick 
letter ; she guessed what it must contain, and deprecated the 
necessity of reading it. She was now in perfect charity with 
Frank Churchill ; she wanted no explanations, she wanted 
only to have her thoughts to herself — and as for understanding 
anything he wrote, she was sure she was incapable of it. It 
must be waded through, however. She opened the packet ; it 
was too surely so ; — a note from Mrs. Weston to herself 
ushered in the letter from Frank to Mrs. Weston. 

* I have the greatest pleasure, my dear Emma, in forward- 
ing to you the enclosed. I know what thorough justice you 
will do it, and have scarcely a doubt of its happy effect. I 
think we shall never materially disagree about the writer 
again ; but I will not delay you by a long preface. We are 
quite well. This letter has been the cure of all the little 
nervousness I have been feeling lately. I did not quite like 
your looks on Tuesday, but it was an ungenial morning ; and 
though you will never own being affected by weather, I think 
everybody feels a north-east wind. I felt for your dear father 
very much in the storm of Tuesday afternoon and yesterday 
morning, but had the comfort of hearing last night, by Mr. 
Perry, that it had not made him ill. — Yours ever, 

* A. W.' 
[To Mrs. Weston.] 

' Windsor, July. 

* My dear Madam — If I made myself intelligible yester- 
day, this letter will be expected ; but, expected or not, I know it 
will be read with candour and indulgence. You are all good- 
ness, and I believe there will be need of even all your good- 
ness to allow for some parts of my past conduct. But I have 
been forgiven by one who had still more to resent. My 
courage rises while I write. It is very difficult for the prosper- 

392 



EMMA 

ous to be humble. I have already met with such success in 
two applications for pardon, that I may be in danger of think- 
ing myself too sure of yours, and of those among your friends 
who have had any ground of offence. You must all endeavour 
to comprehend the exact nature of my situation when I first 
arrived at Randalls ; you must consider me as having a secret 
which was to be kept at all hazards. This was the fact. My 
right to place myself in a situation requiring such concealment 
is another question. I shall not discuss it here. For my 
temptation to think it a right, I refer every caviller to a 
brick house, sashed windows below, and casements above, in 
Highbury. I dared not address her openly ; my difficulties 
in the then state of Enscombe must be too well known to 
require definition ; and I was fortunate enough to prevail, 
before we parted at Weymouth, and to induce the most 
upright female mind in the creation to stoop in charity to a 
secret engagement. Had she refused, I should have gone 
mad. But you will be ready to say. What was your hope in 
doing this ? What did you look forward to ? To anything, 
everything — to time, chance, circumstance, slow effects, 
sudden bursts, perseverance and weariness, health and sick- 
ness. Every possibility of good was before me, and the 
first of blessings secured, in obtaining her promises of faith 
and correspondence. If you need further explanation, I 
have the honour, my dear madam, of being your husband's 
son, and the advantage of inheriting a disposition to hope 
for good, which no inheritance of houses or lands can ever 
equal the value of See me, then, under these circumstances, 
arriving on my first visit to Randalls ; and here I am con- 
scious of wrong, for that visit might have been sooner paid. 
You will look back, and see that I did not come till Miss 
Fairfax was in Highbury ; and a.s you were the person slighted, 
you will forgive me instantly : but I must work on my father's 
compassion, by reminding him, that so long as I absented 
myself from his house, so long I lost the blessing of knowing 
you. My behaviour, during the very happy fortnight which 
I spent with you, did not, I hope, lay me open to reprehen- 
sion, excepting on one point. And now I come to the 
principal, the only important part of my conduct, while 
belonging to you, which excites my own anxiety, or requires 
very solicitous explanation. With the greatest respect, and 

393 



EMMA 

the warmest friendship, do I mention Miss Woodhouse ; my 
father, perhaps, will think I ought to add, with the deepest 
humiliation. A few words which dropped from him yester- 
day spoke his opinion, and some censure I acknowledge 
myself liable to. My behaviour to Miss Woodhouse indi- 
cated, I believe, more than it ought. In order to assist a 
concealment so essential to me, I was led on to make more 
than an allowable use of the sort of intimacy into which we 
were immediately thrown. I cannot deny that Miss Wood- 
house was my ostensible object ; but I am sure you will 
believe the declaration, that had I not been convinced of 
her indifference, I would not have been induced by any 
selfish views to go on. Amiable and delightful as Miss 
Woodhouse is, she never gave me the idea of a young woman 
likely to be attached ; and that she was perfectly free from 
any tendency to being attached to me, was as much my con- 
viction as my wish. She received my attentions with an 
easy, friendly, good-humoured playfulness, which exactly 
suited me. We seemed to understand each other. From 
our relative situation, those attentions were her due, and were 
felt to be so. Whether Miss Woodhouse began really to 
understand me before the expiration of that fortnight, I 
cannot say : when I called to take leave of her, I remember 
that I was within a moment of confessing the truth, and I 
then fancied she was not without suspicion ; but I have no 
doubt of her having since detected me, — at least, in some 
degree. She may not have surmised the whole, but her 
quickness must have penetrated a part. I cannot doubt it. 
You will find, whenever the subject becomes freed from its 
present restraints, that it did not take her wholly by surprise. 
She frequently gave me hints of it. I remember her telling 
me at the ball that I owed Mrs. Elton gratitude for her atten- 
tions to Miss Fairfax. I hope this history of my conduct 
towards her will be admitted by you and my father as great 
extenuation of what you saw amiss. While you considered 
me as having sinned against Emma Woodhouse, I could 
deserve nothing from either. Acquit me here, and procure 
for me, when it is allowable, the acquittal and good wishes 
of that said Emma Woodhouse, whom I regard with so much 
brotherly affection as to long to have her as deeply and as 
happily in love as myself Whatever strange things I said 

394 



EMMA 

or did during that fortnight, you have now a key to. My 
heart was in Highbury, and my business was to get my body 
thither as often as might be, and with the least suspicion. 
If you remember any queemess, set them all to the right 
account. Of the pianoforte so much talked of, I feel it 
only necessary to say, that its being ordered was absolutely 
unknown to Miss F., who would never have allowed me 
to send it, had any choice been given her. The delicacy 
of her mind throughout the whole engagement, my dear 
madam, is much beyond my power of doing justice to. You 
will soon, I earnestly hope, know her thoroughly yourself. 
No description can describe her. She must tell you herself 
what she is ; yet not by word, for never was there a human 
creature who would so designedly suppress her own merit. 
Since I began this letter, which will be longer than I foresaw, 
I have heard from her. She gives a good account of her 
own health ; but, as she never complains, I dare not depend. 
I want to have your opinion of her looks. I know you will 
soon call on her ; she is living in dread of the visit. Perhaps 
it is paid already. Let me hear from you without delay ! I 
am impatient for a thousand particulars. Remember how 
few minutes I was at Randalls, and in how bewildered, how 
mad a state : and I am not much better yet ; still insane 
either from happiness or misery. When I think of the kind- 
ness and favour I have met with, of her excellence and 
patience, and my uncle's generosity, I am mad with joy : 
but when I recollect all the uneasiness I occasioned her, 
and how little I deserve to be forgiven, I am mad with anger. 
If I could but see her again ! But I must not propose it yet : 
my uncle has been too good for me to encroach. I must 
still add to this long letter. You have not heard all that you 
ought to hear. I could not give any connected detail yester- 
day ; but the suddenness and, in one light, the unseasonable- 
ness with which the affair burst out, needs explanation ; for 
though the event of the 26th ult., as you will conclude, 
immediately opened to me the happiest prospects, I should 
not have presumed on such early measures, but from the 
very particular circumstances which left me not an hour to 
lose. I should myself have shrunk from anything so hasty, 
and she would have felt every scruple of mine with multiplied 
strength and refinement : but I had no choice. The hasty 

395 



EMMA 

engagement she had entered into with that woman 

Here, my dear madam, I was obhged to leave off abruptly, 
to recollect and compose myself. I have been walking over 
the country, and am now, I hope, rational enough to make 
the rest of my letter what it ought to be. It is, in fact, a 
most mortifying retrospect for me. I behaved shamefully. 
And here I can admit that my manners to Miss W., in being 
unpleasant to Miss F., were highly blamable. She disap- 
proved them, which ought to have been enough. My plea 
of concealing the truth she did not think sufficient. She was 
displeased ; I thought unreasonably so : I thought her, on a 
thousand occasions, unnecessarily scrupulous and cautious : 
I thought her even cold. But she was always right. If I 
had followed her judgment, and subdued my spirits to the 
level of what she deemed proper, I should have escaped the 
greatest unhappiness I have ever known. We quarrelled. 
Do you remember the morning spent at Don well? There 
every little dissatisfaction that had occurred before came to 
a crisis. I was late ; I met her walking home by herself, and 
wanted to walk with her, but she would not suffer it. She 
absolutely refused to allow me, which I then thought most 
unreasonable. Now, however, I see nothing in it but a very 
natural and consistent degree of discretion. While I, to 
blind the world to our engagement, was behaving one hour 
with objectionable particularity to another woman, was she 
to be consenting the next to a proposal which might have 
made every previous caution useless ? Had we been met 
walking together between Donwell and Highbury, the truth 
must have been suspected. I was mad enough, however, to 
resent. I doubted her affection. I doubted it more the 
next day on Box Hill ; when, provoked by such conduct on 
my side, such shameful, insolent neglect of her, and such 
apparent devotion to Miss W. as it would have been impos- 
sible for any woman of sense to endure, she spoke her resent- 
ment in a form of words perfectly intelligible to me. In 
short, my dear madam, it was a quarrel blameless on her 
side, abominable on mine ; and I returned the same evening 
to Richmond, though I might have stayed with you till the 
next morning, merely because I would be as angry with her 
as possible. Even then, I was not such a fool as not to 
mean to be reconciled in time ; but I was the injured person, 

396 



EMMA 

injured by her coldness, and I went away, determined that 
she should make the first advances. I shall always congratu- 
late myself that you were not of the Box Hill party. Had 
you witnessed my behaviour there, I can hardly suppose you 
would ever have thought well of me again. Its effect upon 
her appears in the immediate resolution it produced : as 
soon as she found I was really gone from Randalls, she 
closed with the offer of that officious Mrs. Elton ; the whole 
system of whose treatment of her, by the bye, has ever filled 
me with indignation and hatred. I must not quarrel with 
the spirit of forbearance which has been so richly extended 
towards myself; but, otherwise, I should loudly protest 
against the share of it which that woman has known. " Jane," 
indeed ! You will observe that I have not yet indulged 
myself in calling her by that name, even to you. Think, 
then, what I must have endured in hearing it bandied between 
the Eltons, with all the vulgarity of needless repetition, and 
all the insolence of imaginary superiority. Have patience 
with me, I shall soon have done. She closed with this offer, 
resolving to break with me entirely, and wrote the next day 
to tell me that we never were to meet again. She felt the 
engagement to be a source of repentance and misery to each: she 
dissolved it. This letter reached me on the very morning of my 
poor aunt's death. I answered it within an hour ; but from 
the confusion of my mind, and the multiplicity of business 
falling on me at once, my answer, instead of being sent with 
all the many other letters of that day, was locked up in my 
writing-desk ; and I, trusting that I had written enough, though 
but a few lines, to satisfy her, remained without any uneasiness. 
I was rather disappointed that I did not hear from her again 
speedily ; but I made excuses for her, and was too busy, and 
— may I add? — too cheerful in my views to be captious. 
We removed to Windsor ; and two days afterwards I received 
a parcel from her — my own letters all returned ! — and a few 
lines at the same time by the post, stating her extreme sur- 
prise at not having had the smallest reply to her last ; and 
adding, that as silence on such a point could not be miscon- 
strued, and as it must be equally desirable to both to have 
every subordinate arrangement concluded as soon as possible, 
she now sent me, by a safe conveyance, all my letters, and re- 
quested, that if I could not directly command hers, so as to 

397 



EMMA 

send them to Highbury within a week, I would forward 
them after that period to her at : in short, the full direc- 
tion to Mr. Smallridge's, near Bristol, stared me in the face. 
I knew the name, the place, I knew all about it, and instantly 
saw what she had been doing. It was perfectly accordant 
with that resolution of character which I knew her to possess ; 
and the secrecy she had maintained, as to any such design 
in her former letter, was equally descriptive of its anxious 
delicacy. For the world would not she have seemed to 
threaten me. Imagine the shock ; imagine how, till I had 
actually detected my own blunder, I raved at the blunders 
of the post. What was to be done ? One thing only. I 
must speak to my uncle. Without his sanction I could not 
hope to be listened to again. I spoke ; circumstances were 
in my favour ; the late event had softened away his pride, 
and he was, earlier than .1 could have anticipated, wholly re- 
conciled and complying ; and could say at last, poor man ! 
with a deep sigh, that he wished I might find as much happi- 
ness in the marriage state as he had done. I felt that it 
would be of a different sort. Are you disposed to pity me 
for what I must have suffered in opening the cause to him, 
for my suspense while all was at stake ? No ; do not pity 
me till I reached Highbury, and saw how ill I had made her. 
Do not pity me till I saw her wan, sick looks. I reached 
Highbury at the time of day when, from my knowledge of 
their late breakfast hour, I was certain of a good chance of 
finding her alone. I was not disappointed ; and at last I 
was not disappointed either in the object of my journey. A 
great deal of very reasonable, very just displeasure I had to 
persuade away. But it is done ; we are reconciled, dearer, 
much dearer, than ever, and no moment's uneasiness can 
ever occur between us again. Now, my dear madam, I will 
release you ; but I could not conclude before. A thousand 
and a thousand thanks for all the kindness you have ever 
shown me, and ten thousand for the attentions your heart will 
dictate towards her. If you think me in a way to be happier 
than I deserve, I am quite of your opinion. Miss W. calls 
me the child of good fortune. I hope she is right. In one 
respect, my good fortune is undoubted, that of being able to 
subscribe myself your obliged and affectionate Son, 

' F. C. Weston Churchill.' 

398 



EMMA 



CHAPTER LI 

This letter must make its way to Emma's feelings. She was 
obliged, in spite of her previous determination to the contrary, 
to do it all the justice that Mrs. Weston foretold. As soon as 
she came to her own name, it was irresistible : every line 
relating to herself was interesting, and almost every line 
agreeable ; and when this charm ceased, the subject could 
still maintain itself, by the natural return of her former regard 
for the writer, and the very strong attraction which any picture 
of love must have for her at that moment. She never stopped 
till she had gone through the whole ; and though it was 
impossible not to feel that he had been wrong, yet he had 
been less wrong than she had supposed ; and he had suffered 
and was very sorry ; and he was so grateful to Mrs. Weston, 
and so much in love with Miss Fairfax, and she was so happy 
herself, that there was no being severe ; and could he have 
entered the room, she must have shaken hands with him as 
heartily as ever. 

She thought so well of the letter, that when Mr. Knightley 
came again, she desired him to read it. She was sure of 
Mrs. Weston's wishing it to be communicated ; especially to 
one who, like Mr. Knightley, had seen so much to blame in 
his conduct. 

' I shall be very glad to look it over,' said he, ' but it seems 
long. I will take it home with me at night.' 

But that would not do. Mr. Weston was to call in the 
evening and she must return it by him. 

' I would rather be talking to you,' he replied ; ' but as it 
seems a matter of justice, it shall be done.' 

He began — stopping, however, almost directly to say, 
' Had I been offered the sight of one of this gentleman's letters 
to his mother-in-law a few months ago, Emma, it would not 
have been taken with such indifference.' 

He proceeded a little further, reading to himself; and then, 
with a smile, observed, ' Humph ! — a fine complimentary open- 
ing ; but it is his way. One man's style must not be the rule 
of another's. We will not be severe.' 

399 



EMMA 

' It will be natural for me,' he added, shortly afterwards, 
' to speak my opinion aloud as I read. By doing it, I shall 
feel that I am near you. It will not be so great a loss of 
time ; but if you dislike it — — ' 

' Not at all. I should wish it.' 

Mr. Knightley returned to his reading with greater alacrity. 

' He trifles here,' said he, ' as to the temptation. He 
knows he is wrong, and has nothing rational to urge. Bad. 
He ought not to have formed the engagement. " His father's 
disposition " : — he is unjust, however, to his father. Mr. 
Weston's sanguine temper was a blessing on all his upright 
and honourable exertions ; but Mr. Weston earned every 
present comfort before he endeavoured to gain it. Very true ; 
he did not come till Miss Fairfax was here.' 

'And I have not forgotten,' said Emma, 'how sure you 
were that he might have come sooner if he would. You pass 
it over very handsomely ; — but you were perfectly right.' 

' I was not quite impartial in my judgment, Emma ; but 
yet, I think, had you not been in the case, I should still have 
distrusted him.' 

When he came to Miss Woodhouse, he was obliged to read 
the whole of it aloud — all that related to her, with a smile, 
a look, a shake of the head, a word or two of assent, or dis- 
approbation, or merely of love, as the subject required ; 
concluding, however, seriously, and, after steady reflection, 
thus — 

' Very bad — though it might have been worse. Playing a 
most dangerous game. Too much indebted to the event for 
his acquittal. No judge of his own manners by you. Always 
deceived, in fact, by his own wishes, and regardless of httle 
besides his own convenience. Fancying you to have fathomed 
his secret ! Natural enough ! his own mind full of intrigue, 
that he should suspect it in others. Mystery — finesse — how 
they pervert the understanding ! My Emma, does not every- 
thing serve to prove more and more the beauty of truth and 
sincerity in all our dealings with each other ? ' 

Emma agreed to it, and with a blush of sensibility on 
Harriet's account, which she could not give any sincere 
explanation of. 

' You had better go on,' said she. 

He did so, but very soon stopped again to say, ' The piano- 
400 



EMMA 

forte ! Ah ! — that was the act of a very, very young man, 
one too young to consider whether the inconvenience of it 
might not very much exceed the pleasure. A boyish scheme, 
indeed ! I cannot comprehend a man's wishing to give a 
woman any proof of affection which he knows she would 
rather dispense with ; and he did know that she would have 
prevented the instrument's coming if she could.' 

After this, he made some progress without any pause. 
Frank Churchill's confession of having behaved shamefully 
was the first thing to call for more than a word in passing. 

' I perfectly agree with you, sir,' was then his remark. 
* You did behave very shamefully. You never wrote a truer 
line.' And having gone through what immediately followed 
of the basis of their disagreement, and his persisting to act in 
direct opposition to Jane Fairfax's sense of right, he made a 
fuller pause to say, ' This is very bad. He had induced her 
to place herself, for his sake, in a situation of extreme difficulty 
and uneasiness, and it should have been his first object to 
prevent her from suffering unnecessarily. She must have had 
much more to contend with in carrying on the correspondence 
than he could. He should have respected even unreasonable 
scruples, had there been such ; but hers were all reasonable. 
We must look to her one fault, and remember that she had 
done a wrong thing in consenting to the engagement, to bear 
that she should have been in such a state of punishment.' 

Emma knew that he was now getting to the Box Hill party 
and grew uncomfortable. Her own behaviour had been so 
very improper ! She was deeply ashamed, and a little afraid 
of his next look. It was all read, however, steadily, atten- 
tively, and without the smallest remark ; and, excepting one 
momentary glance at her, instantly withdrawn, in the fear of 
giving pain — no remembrance of Box Hill seemed to exist. 

'There is no saying much for the delicacy of our good 
friends, the Eltons,' was his next observation. ' His feelings 
are natural. What ! actually resolve to break with him 
entirely ! She felt the engagement to be a source of repent- 
ance and misery to each — she dissolved it. What a view this 
gives of her sense of his behaviour ! Well, he must be a 
most extraordinary ' 

' Nay, nay, read on. You will find how very much he 
suffers.' 

2 D 401 



EMMA 

' I hope he does,' repHed Mr. Knightley coolly, and 
resuming the letter — ' " Smallridge ! " — What does this mean ? 
What is all this ? ' 

' She had engaged to go as governess to Mrs. Smallridge's 
children — a dear friend of Mrs. Elton's — a neighbour of 
Maple Grove ; and, by the bye, I wonder how Mrs. Elton 
bears the disappointment.' 

' Say nothing, my dear Emma, while you oblige me to read 
— not even of Mrs. Elton. Only one page more, I shall 
soon have done. What a letter the man writes ! ' 

' I wish you would read it with a kinder spirit towards 
him.' 

'Well, there is feeling here. He does seem to have 
suffered in finding her ill. Certainly, I can have no doubt of 
his being fond of her. " Dearer, much dearer than ever." 
I hope he may long continue to feel all the value of such a 
reconciliation. He is a very liberal thanker, with his thou- 
sands and tens of thousands. — " Happier than I deserve." 
Come, he knows himself there. " Miss Woodhouse calls me 
the child of good fortune." Those were Miss Woodhouse's 
words, were they ? And a fine ending — and there is a letter, 
" The child of good fortune I " That was your name for him, 
was it ? ' 

' You do not appear so well satisfied with his letter as I 
am ; but still you must, at least I hope you must, think the 
better of him for it. I hope it does him some service with 
yoii.' 

' Yes, certainly it does. He has had great faults, — faults 
of inconsideration and thoughtlessness ; and I am very much 
of his opinion in thinking him likely to be happier than he 
deserves : but still as he is, beyond a doubt, really attached 
to Miss Fairfax, and will soon, it may be hoped, have the 
advantage of being constantly with her, I am very ready to 
believe his character will improve, and acquire from hers the 
steadiness and delicacy of principle that it wants. And now, 
let me talk to you of something else. I have another per- 
son's interest at present so much at heart, that I cannot 
think any longer about Frank Churchill. Ever since I left 
you this morning, Emma, my mind has been hard at work 
on one subject.' 

The subject followed ; it was in plain, unaffected, gentle- 
402 



EMMA 

man -like English, such as Mr. Knightley used even to the 
woman he was in love with, how to be able to ask her to 
marry him, without attacking the happiness of her father. 
Emma's answer was ready at the first word. 'While her 
dear father lived, any change of condition must be impos- 
sible for her. She could never quit him.' Part only of this 
answer, however, was admitted. The impossibility of her 
quitting her father, Mr. Knightley felt as strong as herself; 
but the inadmissibility of any other change he could not 
agree to. He had been thinking it over most deeply, most 
intently ; he had at first hoped to induce Mr. Woodhouse to 
remove with her to Donwell ; he had wanted to believe it 
feasible, but his knowledge of Mr. Woodhouse would not 
suffer him to deceive himself long ; and now he confessed his 
persuasion that such a transplantation would be a risk of her 
father's comfort, perhaps even of his life, which must not be 
hazarded. Mr. Woodhouse taken from Hartfield ! — No, he 
felt that it ought not to be attempted. But the plan which 
had arisen on the sacrifice of this, he trusted his dearest 
Emma would not find in any respect objectionable ; it was, 
that he should be received at Hartfield ! that so long as her 
father's happiness — in other words his life — required Hart- 
field to continue her home, it should be his likewise. 

Of their all removing to Donwell, Emma had already had 
her own passing thoughts. Like him, she had tried the 
scheme and rejected it ; but such an alternative as this had 
not occurred to her. She was sensible of all the affection it 
evinced. She felt that, in quitting Donwell, he must be 
sacrificing a great deal of independence of hours and habits ; 
that in living constantly with her father, and in no house of 
his own, there would be much, very much, to be borne with. 
She promised to think of it, and advised him to think of it 
more ; but he was fully convinced that no reflection could 
alter his wishes or his opinion on the subject. He had given 
it, he could assure her, very long and calm consideration ; he 
had been walking away from William Larkins the whole 
morning to have his thoughts to himself. 

' Ah ! there is one difficulty unprovided for,' cried Emma. 
' I am sure William Larkins will not like it. You must get 
his consent before you ask mine.' 

She promised, however, to think of it ; and pretty nearly 

403 







Walking atvayfrom William LarkiJis. 



EMMA 

promised, moreover, to think of it, with the intention of find- 
ing it a very good scheme. 

It is remarkable that Emma, in the many, very many, 
points of view in which she was now beginning to consider 
Donwell Abbey, was never struck with any sense of injury 
to her nephew Henry, whose rights as heir -expectant had 
formerly been so tenaciously regarded. Think she must of 
the possible difference to the poor little boy ; and yet she 
only gave herself a saucy conscious smile about it, and found 
amusement in detecting the real cause of that violent dislike 
of Mr. Knightley's marrying Jane Fairfax, or anybody else, 
which at the time she had wholly imputed to the amiable 
solicitude of the sister and the aunt. 

This proposal of his, this plan of marrying and continuing 
at Hartfield — the more she contemplated it, the more pleasing 
it became. His evils seemed to lessen, her own advantages 
to increase, their mutual good to outweigh every drawback. 
Such a companion for herself in the periods of anxiety 
and cheerlessness before her ! Such a partner in all those 
duties and cares to which time must be giving increase of 
melancholy ! 

She would have been too happy but for poor Harriet ; but 
every blessing of her own seemed to involve and advance the 
sufferings of her friend, who must now be even excluded from 
Hartfield. The delightful family- party which Emma was 
securing for herself, poor Harriet must, in mere charitable 
caution, be kept at a distance from. She would be a loser 
in every way. Emma could not deplore her future absence 
as any deduction from her own enjoyment. In such a party, 
Harriet would be rather a dead weight than otherwise ; but 
for the poor girl herself, it seemed a peculiarly cruel necessity 
that was to be placing her in such a state of unmerited 
punishment. 

In time, of course, Mr. Knightley would be forgotten, that 
is, supplanted ; but this could not be expected to happen 
very early. Mr. Knightley himself would be doing nothing 
to assist the cure ; not like Mr. Elton. Mr. Knightley, 
always so kind, so feeling, so truly considerate for everybody, 
would never deserve to be less worshipped than now ; and it 
really was too much to hope, even of Harriet, that she could 
be in love with more than three men in one year. 

405 



EMMA 



CHAPTER LII 

It was a very great relief to Emma to find Harriet as desir- 
ous as herself to avoid a meeting. Their intercourse was 
painful enough by letter. How much worse had they been 
obliged to meet ! 

Harriet expressed herself very much, as might be supposed, 
without reproaches, or apparent sense of ill usage ; and yet 
Emma fancied there was a something of resentment, a some- 
thing bordering on it in her style, which increased the desir- 
ableness of their being separate. It might be only her own 
consciousness ; but it seemed as if an angel only could have 
been quite without resentment under such a stroke. 

She had no difficulty in procuring Isabella's invitation ; 
and she was fortunate in having a sufficient reason for asking 
it, without resorting to invention. There was a tooth amiss. 
Harriet really wished, and had wished some time, to consult 
a dentist. Mrs. John Knightley was delighted to be of use : 
anything of ill-health was a recommendation to her — and 
though not so fond of a dentist as of a Mr. Wingfield, she 
was quite eager to have Harriet under her care. When it 
was thus settled on her sister's side, Emma proposed it to 
her friend, and found her very persuadable. Harriet was to 
go ; she was invited for at least a fortnight ; she was to be 
conveyed in Mr. Woodhouse's carriage. It was all arranged, 
it was all completed, and Harriet was safe in Brunswick 
Square. 

Now Emma could, indeed, enjoy Mr. Knightley's visits ; 
now she could talk, and she could listen with true happiness, 
unchecked by that sense of injustice, of guilt, of something 
most painful, which had haunted her when remembering 
how disappointed a heart was near her, how much might at 
that moment, and at a little distance, be enduring by the 
feelings which she had led astray herself. 

The difiference of Harriet at Mrs. Goddard's, or in London, 
made perhaps an unreasonable difference in Emma's sensa- 
tions ; but she could not think of her in London without 
objects of curiosity and employment, which must be averting 
the past, and carrying her out of herself. 

406 



EMMA 

She would not allow any other anxiety to succeed directly 
to the place in her mind which Harriet had occupied. There 
was a communication before her, one which she only could be 
competent to make — the confession of her engagement to her 
father ; but she would have nothing to do with it at present. 
She had resolved to defer the disclosure till Mrs. Weston was 
safe and well. No additional agitation should be thrown at 
this period among those she loved — and the evil should not 
act on herself by anticipation before the appointed time. A 
fortnight, at least, of leisure and peace of mind, to crown every 
warmer, but more agitating, delight, should be hers. 

She soon resolved, equally as a duty and a pleasure, to 
employ half an hour of this holiday of spirits in calling on 
Miss Fairfax. She ought to go — and she was longing to see 
her ; the resemblance of their present situations increasing 
every other motive of goodwill. It would be a secret satis- 
faction ; but the consciousness of a similarity of prospect 
would certainly add to the interest with which she should 
attend to anything Jane might communicate. 

She went — she had driven once unsuccessfully to the door, 
but had not been into the house since the morning after Box 
Hill, when poor Jane had been in such distress as had filled 
her with compassion, though all the worst of her sufferings 
had been unsuspected. The fear of being still unwelcome 
determined her, though assured of their being at home, to wait 
in the passage, and send up her name. She heard Patty 
announcing it ; but no such bustle succeeded as poor Miss 
Bates had before made so happily intelligible. No ; she heard 
nothing but the instant reply of ' Beg her to walk up ' ; and a 
moment afterwards she was met on the stairs by Jane herself, 
coming eagerly forward as if no other reception of her were 
felt sufficient. Emma had never seen her look so well, so 
lovely, so engaging. There was consciousness, animation, and 
warmth ; there was everything which her countenance or 
manner could ever have wanted. She came forward with an 
offered hand ; and said, in a low, but very feeling tone — 

* This is most kind, indeed ! Miss Woodhouse, it is im- 
possible for me to express 1 hope you will believe 

Excuse me for being so entirely without words.' 

Emma was gratified, and would soon have shown no want 
of words if the sound of Mrs. Elton's voice from the sitting- 

407 



EMMA 

room had not checked her, and made it expedient to compress 
all her friendly and all her congratulatory sensations into a 
very, very earnest shake of the hand. 

Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Elton were together. Miss Bates 
was out, which accounted for the previous tranquillity. Emma 
could have wished Mrs. Elton elsewhere ; but she was in a 
humour to have patience with everybody ; and as Mrs. Elton 
met her with unusual graciousness, she hoped the rencontre 
would do them no harm. 

She soon believed herself to penetrate Mrs. Elton's thoughts, 
and understand why she was, like herself, in happy spirits ; it 
was being in Miss Fairfax's confidence, and fancying herself 
acquainted with what was still a secret to other people. Emma 
saw symptoms of it immediately in the expression of her face ; 
and while paying her own compliments to Mrs. Bates, and 
appearing to attend to the good old lady's replies, she saw her 
with a sort of anxious parade of mystery fold up a letter which 
she had apparently been reading aloud to Miss Fairfax, and 
return it into the purple and gold reticule by her side, saying, 
with significant nods — 

' We can finish this some other time, you know. You and 
I shall not want opportunities ; and, in fact, you have heard 
all the essential already. I only wanted to prove to you that 
Mrs. S. admits our apology, and is not offended. You see 
how delightfully she writes. Oh, she is a sweet creature ! 
You would have doated on her, had you gone, — But not a 
word more. Let us be discreet — quite on our good behaviour. 
— Hush ! — You remember those lines — I forget the poem at 
this moment : — 

For when a lady's in the case, 

You know, all other things give place. 

Now I say, my dear, in 07ir case, for lady, read mum ! a 

word to the wise. I am in a fine flow of spirits, ain't I ? But 
I want to set your heart at ease as to Mrs. S. My representa- 
tion, you see, has quite appeased her.' 

And again, on Emma's merely turning her head to look at 
Mrs. Bates's knitting, she added, in a half whisper — 

' I mentioned no names, you will observe. Oh no ! cautious 
as a minister of state. I managed it extremely well.' 

Emma could not doubt. It was a palpable display, re- 
408 



EMMA 

peated on every possible occasion. When they had all talked 
a little while in harmony of the weather and Mrs. Weston, she 
found herself abruptly addressed with — 

' Do not you think, Miss Woodhouse, our saucy little friend 
here is charmingly recovered ? Do not you think her cure 
does Perry the highest credit ? (here was a side glance of 
great meaning at Jane). Upon my word, Perry has restored 
her in a wonderful short time ! Oh, if you had seen her, as I 
did, when she was at the worst ! ' And when Mrs. Bates was 
saying something to Emma, whispered further, 'We do not 
say a word of any assistance that Perry might have ; not a 
word of a certain young physician from Windsor. Oh no, 
Perry shall have all the credit. 

' I have scarce had the pleasure of seeing you. Miss Wood- 
house,' she shortly afterwards began, ' since the party to Box 
Hill. Very pleasant party. But yet I think there was some- 
thing wanting. Things did not seem — that is, there seemed a 
little cloud upon the spirits of some. So it appeared to me, at 
least, but I might be mistaken. However, I think it answered 
so far as to tempt one to go again. What say you both to our 
collecting the same party and exploring to Box Hill again, 
while the fine weather lasts ? It must be the same party, you 
know, quite the same party, not one exception.' 

Soon after this Miss Bates came in, and Emma could not 
help being diverted by the perplexity of her first answer to 
herself, resulting, she supposed, from doubt of what might be 
said, and impatience to say everything. 

' Thank you, dear Miss Woodhouse, you are all kindness. 
It is impossible to say — Yes, indeed, I quite understand — 
dearest Jane's prospects — that is, I do not mean. But she is 
charmingly recovered. How is Mr. Woodhouse ? I am so 
glad. — Quite out of my power. — Such a happy little circle as 
you find us here. — Yes, indeed. — Charming young man ! — that 
is — so very friendly ; I mean good Mr. Perry ! — such attention 
to Jane ! ' And from her great, her more than commonly 
thankful delight towards Mrs. Elton for being there, Emma 
guessed that there had been a little show of resentment towards 
Jane, from the Vicarage quarter, which was now graciously 
overcome. — After a few whispers, indeed, which placed it 
beyond a guess, Mrs. Elton, speaking louder, said — 

' Yes, here I am, my good friend \ and here I have been 
409 



EMMA 

so long, that anywhere else I should think it necessary to 
apologise : but, the truth is, that I am waiting for my lord and 
master. He promised to join me here, and pay his respects 
to you.' 

'What! are we to have the pleasure of a call from Mr. 
Elton ? That will be a favour indeed ! for I know gentlemen 
do not like morning visits, and Mr. Elton's time is so engaged.' 

* Upon my word it is, Miss Bates. He really is engaged 
from morning to night. There is no end of people's coming 
to him on some pretence or other. The magistrates, and 
overseers, and churchwardens, are always wanting his opinion. 
They seem not able to do anything without him, *' Upon my 
word, Mr. E.," I often say, "rather you than I. I do not 
know what would become of my crayons and my instrument, 
if I had half so many applicants." Bad enough as it is, for I 
absolutely neglect them both to an unpardonable degree. I 
believe I have not played a bar this fortnight. However, he 
is coming, I assure you : yes, indeed, on purpose to wait on 
you all.' And putting up her hand to screen her words from 
Emma — 'A congratulatory visit, you know. Oh yes, quite 
indispensable.' 

Miss Bates looked about her, so happily. 

' He promised to come to me as soon as he could disengage 
himself from Knightley ; but he and Knightley are shut up 
together in deep consultation. Mr. E. is Knightley's right hand.' 

Emma would not have smiled for the world, and only said, 
'Is Mr. Elton gone on foot to Don well ? He will have a hot 
walk.' 

' Oh no, it is a meeting at the Crown — a regular meeting. 
Weston and Cole will be there too ; but one is apt to speak 
only of those who lead. I fancy Mr. E. and Knightley have 
everything their own way.' 

* Have not you mistaken the day ? ' said Emma. ' I am 
almost certain that the meeting at the Crown is not till to- 
morrow. Mr. Knightley was at Hartfield yesterday, and spoke 
of it as for Saturday.' 

' Oh no, the meeting is certainly to-day,' was the abrupt 
answer, which denoted the impossibility of any blunder on 
Mrs. Elton's side. ' I do believe,' she continued, ' this is the 
most troublesome parish that ever was. We never heard of 
such things at Maple Grove.' 

410 



EMMA 

' Your parish there was small,' said Jane. 

* Upon my word, my dear, I do not know, for I never heard 
the subject talked of.' 

* But it is proved by the smallness of the school, which I 
have heard you speak of, as under the patronage of your sister 
and Mrs. Bragge ; the only school, and not more than five-and- 
twenty children.' 

' Ah ! you clever creature, that's very true. What a think- 
ing brain you have ! I say, Jane, what a perfect character you 
and I should make, if we could be shaken together. My 
liveliness and your solidity would produce perfection. Not 
that I presume to insinuate, however, that some people may 
not think you perfection already. But hush ! — not a word, if 
you please.' 

It seemed an unnecessary caution ; Jane was wanting to 
give her words, not to Mrs. Elton, but to Miss Woodhouse, as 
the latter plainly saw. The wish of distinguishing her, as far 
as civility permitted, was very evident, though it could not 
often proceed beyond a look. 

Mr. Elton made his appearance. His lady greeted him 
with some of her sparkling vivacity. 

' Very pretty, sir, upon my word ; to send me on here, to 
be an encumbrance to my friends, so long before you vouch- 
safe to come. But you knew what a dutiful creature you had 
to deal with. You knew I should not stir till my lord and 
master appeared. Here have I been sitting this hour, giving 
these young ladies a sample of true conjugal obedience ; for 
who can say, you know, how soon it may be wanted ? ' 

Mr. Elton was so hot and tired, that all this wit seemed 
thrown away. His civilities to the other ladies must be 
paid ; but his subsequent object was to lament over himself, 
for the heat he was suffering, and the walk he had had for 
nothing. 

' When I got to Donwell,' said he, ' Knightley could not be 
found. Very odd ! very unaccountable ! after the note I sent 
him this morning, and the message he returned, that he should 
certainly be at home till one.' 

' Donwell ! ' cried his wife. * My dear Mr. E., you have 
not been to Donwell ; you mean the Crown ; you come from 
the meeting at the Crown.' 

* No, no, that's to-morrow ; and I particularly wanted to 

411 



EMMA 

see Knightley to-day on that very account. Such a dreadful 
broiling morning ! I went over the fields too (speaking in a 
tone of great ill usage), which made it so much the worse. 
And then not to find him at home ! I assure you I am not at 
all pleased. And no apology left, no message for me. The 
housekeeper declared she knew nothing of my being expected. 
Very extraordinary ! And nobody knew at all which way he 
was gone. Perhaps to Hartfield, perhaps to the Abbey Mill, 
perhaps into his woods. Miss Woodhouse, this is not like our 
friend Knightley. Can you explain it ? ' 

Emma amused herself by protesting that it was very extra- 
ordinary indeed, and that she had not a syllable to say for 
him. 

' I cannot imagine,' cried Mrs. Elton (feeling the indignity 
as a wife ought to do), ' I cannot imagine how he could do 
such a thing by you, of all people in the world ! The ver}'' 
last person whom one should expect to be forgotten ! My 
dear Mr. E., he must have left a message for you, I am sure 
he must. Not even Knightley could be so very eccentric ; — 
and his servants forgot it. Depend upon it that was the case : 
and very likely to happen with the Don well servants, who are 
all, I have often observed, extremely awkward and remiss. I 
am sure I would not have such a creature as his Harry stand 
at our sideboard for any consideration. And as for Mrs. 
Hodges, Wright holds her very cheap indeed. She promised 
Wright a receipt, and never sent it.' 

' I met William Larkins,' continued Mr. Elton, ' as I got 
near the house, and he told me I should not find his master 
at home, but I did not believe him. William seemed rather 
out of humour. He did not know what was come to his 
master lately, he said, but he could hardly ever get the speech 
of him. I have nothing to do with William's wants, but it 
really is of very great importance that / should see Knightley 
to-day ; and it becomes a matter, therefore, of very serious in- 
convenience that I should have had this hot walk to no 
purpose.' 

Emma felt that she could not do better than go home 
directly. In all probability she was at this very time waited 
for there ; and Mr. Knightley might be preserved from sinking 
deeper in aggression towards Mr. Elton, if not towards William 
Larkins. 

412 




' Such a dreadful broiling morning ! ' 



EMMA 

She was pleased, on taking leave, to find Miss Fairfax 
determined to attend her out of the room, to go with her even 
downstairs ; it gave her an opportunity which she imm.ediately 
made use of, to say — 

' It is as well, perhaps, that I have not had the possibility. 
Had you not been surrounded by other friends, I might have 
been tempted to introduce a subject, to ask questions, to speak 
more openly than might have been strictly correct. I feel that 
I should certainly have been impertinent.' 

' Oh ! ' cried Jane, with a blush and a hesitation which 
Emma thought infinitely more becoming to her than all the 
elegance of her usual composure — 'there would have been 
no danger. The danger would have been of my wearying 
you. You could not have gratified me more than by ex- 
pressing an interest Indeed, Miss Woodhouse (speaking 

more collectedly), with the consciousness which I have of 
misconduct, very great misconduct, it is particularly consoling 
to me to know that those of my friends, whose good opinion is 
most worth preserving, are not disgusted to such a degree as 
to — I have not time for half that I could wish to say. I long 
to make apologies, excuses, to urge something for myself. I 
feel it so very due. But, unfortunately — in short, if your com- 
passion does not stand my friend ' 

' Oh ! you are too scrupulous, indeed you are,' cried Emma 
warmly, and taking her hand. ' You owe me no apologies ; 
and everybody to whom you might be supposed to owe them 
is so perfectly satisfied, so delighted even ' 

' You are very kind, but I know what my manners were to 
you. So cold and artificial ! I had always a part to act. 
It was a life of deceit ! I know that I must have disgusted 
you.' 

' Pray say no more. I feel that all the apologies should be 
on my side. Let us forgive each other at once. We must do 
whatever is to be done quickest, and I think our feelings will 
lose no time there. I hope you have pleasant accounts from 
Windsor ? ' 

'Very.' 

' And the next news, I suppose, will be, that we are to lose 
you — just as I begin to know you.' 

' Oh ! as to all that, of course nothing can be thought of 
yet. I am here till claimed by Colonel and Mrs. Campbell' 

414 



EMMA 

* Nothing can be actually settled yet, perhaps,' replied 
Emma smiling, — ' but, excuse me, it must be thought of.' 

The smile was returned as Jane answered — 

' You are very right ; it has been thought of. And I will 
own to you (I am sure it will be safe) that so far as our living 
with Mr. Churchill at Enscombe, it is settled. There must be 
three months, at least, of deep mourning ; but when they are 
over, I imagine there will be nothing more to wait for.' 

' Thank you, thank you. This is just what I wanted to be 
assured of. Oh ! if you knew how much I love everything 
that is decided and open ! — Good-bye, good-bye.' 



CHAPTER LIII 

Mrs. Weston's friends were all made happy by her safety, 
and if the satisfaction of her well-doing could be increased to 
Emma, it was by knowing her to be the mother of a little girl. 
She had been decided in wishing for a Miss Weston. She 
would not acknowledge that it was with any view of making a 
match for her, hereafter, with either of Isabella's sons ; but 
she was convinced that a daughter would suit both father and 
mother best. It would be a great comfort to Mr. Weston, as 
he grew older — and even Mr. Weston might be growing older 
ten years hence — to have his fireside enlivened by the sports 
and the nonsense, the freaks and the fancies, of a child never 
banished from home ; and Mrs. Weston — no one could doubt 
that a daughter would be most to her ; and it would bp quite 
a pity that any one who so well knew how to teach should not 
have their powers in exercise again. 

' She has had the advantage, you know, of practising on 
me,' she continued — 'like La I3aronne d'Almane on La 
Comtesse d'Ostalis, in Madame de Genlis' Adelaide and 
Theodore^ and we shall now see her own little Adelaide 
educated on a more perfect plan.' 

' That is,' replied Mr. Knightley, * she will indulge her even 
more than she did you, and believe that she does not indulge 
her at all. It will be the only difference.' 

' Poor child ! ' cried Emma ; ' at that rate, what will become 
of her ? ' 

415 



EMMA 

' Nothing very bad. The fate of thousands. She will be 
disagreeable in infancy, and correct herself as she grows 
older. I am losing all my bitterness against spoiled children, 
my dearest Emma. I, who am owing all my happiness to 
you^ would not it be horrible ingratitude in me to be severe on 
them ? ' 

Emma laughed, and replied : ' But I had the assistance of 
all your endeavours to counteract the indulgence of other 
people. I doubt whether my own sense would have corrected 
me without it.' 

'Do you? — I have no doubt. Nature gave you under- 
standing : — Miss Taylor gave you principles. You must have 
done well. My interference was quite as likely to do harm as 
good. It was very natural for you to say, what right has he 
to lecture me ? and I am afraid very natural for you to feel 
that it was done in a disagreeable manner. I do not believe 
I did you any good. The good was all to myself, by making 
you an object of the tenderest affection to me. I could not 
think about you so much without doating on you, faults and 
all ; and by dint of fancying so many errors, have been in 
love with you ever since you were thirteen at least.' 

' I am sure you were of use to me,' cried Emma. ' I was 
very often influenced rightly by you — oftener than I would 
own at the time. I am very sure you did me good. And if 
poor little Anna Weston is to be spoiled, it will be the greatest 
humanity in you to do as much for her as you have done for 
me, except falling in love with her when she is thirteen.' 

' How often, when you were a girl, have you said to me, 
with one of your saucy looks, — " Mr. Knightley, I am going 
to do so and so ; papa says I may " ; or, " I have Miss Taylor's 
leave" — something which, you knew, I did not approve. In 
such cases my interference was giving you two bad feelings 
instead of one.' 

' What an amiable creature I was ! No wonder you should 
hold my speeches in such affectionate remembrance.' 

' " Mr. Knightley." You always called me " Mr. Knightley" ; 
and, from habit, it has not so very formal a sound. And yet 
it is formal. I want you to call me something else, but I do 
not know what.' 

' I remember once calling you " George," in one of my 
amiable fits, about ten years ago. I did it because I thought 

416 



EMMA 

it would offend you ; but, as you made no objection, I never 
did it again.' 

' And cannot you call me " George " now ? ' 

' Impossible ! I never can call you anything but *' Mr. 
Knightley." I will not promise even to equal the elegant 
terseness of Mrs. Elton, by calling you Mr. K. But I will 
promise,' she added presently, laughing and blushing, ' I will 
promise to call you once by your Christian name. I do not 
say when, but perhaps you may guess where ; — in the building 
in which N, takes M. for better, for worse.' 

Emma grieved that she could not be more openly just to 
one important service which his better sense would have 
rendered her, to the advice which would have saved her from 
the worst of all her womanly follies — her wilful intimacy with 
Harriet Smith ; but it was too tender a subject. She could 
not enter on it. Harriet was very seldom mentioned between 
them. This, on his side, might merely proceed from her not 
being thought of; but Emma was rather inclined to attribute 
it to delicacy, and a suspicion, from some appearances, that 
their friendship were declining. She was aware herself that, 
parting under any other circumstances, they certainly should 
have corresponded more, and that her intelligence would not 
have rested, as it now almost wholly did, on Isabella's letters. 
He might observe that it was so. The pain of being obliged 
to practise concealment towards him was very little inferior to 
the pain of having made Harriet unhappy. 

Isabella sent quite as good an account of her visitor as 
could be expected ; on her first arrival she had thought her 
out of spirits, which appeared perfectly natural, as there was 
a dentist to be consulted ; but, since that business had been 
over, she did not appear to find Harriet different from what 
she had known her before. Isabella, to be sure, was no very 
quick observer ; yet if Harriet had not been equal to playing 
with the children, it would not have escaped her. Emma's 
comforts and hopes were most agreeably carried on, by 
Harriet's being to stay longer ; her fortnight was likely to be 
a month at least. Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley were to 
come down in August, and she was invited to remain till they 
could bring her back. 

'John does not even mention your friend,' said Mr. 
Knightley. * Here is his answer if you like to see it.' 
2 £ 417 



EMMA 

It was the answer to the communication of his intended 
marriage. Emma accepted it with a very eager hand, with 
an impatience all alive to know what he would say about it, 
and not at all checked by hearing that her friend was un- 
mentioned. 

' John enters like a brother into my happiness,' continued 
Mr. Knightley, 'but he is no complimenter ; and though I 
well know him to have, likewise, a most brotherly affection for 
you, he is so far from making flourishes, that any other young 
woman might think him rather cool in her praise. But I am 
not afraid of your seeing what he writes.' 

* He writes like a sensible man,' replied Emma, when she 
had read the letter. * I honour his sincerity. It is very plain 
that he considers the good fortune of the engagement as all 
on my side, but that he is not without hope of my growing, in 
time, as worthy of your affection as you think me already. 
Had he said anything to bear a different construction, I should 
not have believed him.' 

' My Emma, he means no such thing. He only means "» 

' He and I should differ very little in our estimation of the 
two,' — interrupted she, with a sort of serious smile — 'much 
less, perhaps, than he is aware of, if we could enter without 
ceremony or reserve on the subject.' 

' Emma, my dear Emma ' 

' Oh ! ' she cried with more thorough gaiety, ' if you fancy 
your brother does not do me justice, only wait till my dear 
father is in the secret, and hear his opinion. Depend upon 
it, he will be much farther from doing you justice. He will 
think all the happiness, all the advantage, on your side of the 
question ; all the merit on mine. I wish I may not sink into 
"poor Emma" with him at once. His tender compassion 
towards oppressed worth can go no farther.' 

' Ah ! ' he cried, ' I wish your father might be half as easily 
convinced as John will be, of our having every right that equal 
worth can give, to be happy together. I am amused by one 
part of John's letter — did you notice it .? — where he says that 
my information did not take him wholly by surprise, that he 
was rather in expectation of hearing something of the kind.' 

' If I understand your brother, he only means so far as 
your having some thoughts of marr^ang. He had no idea of 
me. He seems perfectly unprepared for that.' 

418 



EMMA 

' Yes, yes — but I am amused that he should have seen so 
far into my feelings. What has he been judging by ? I am 
not conscious of any difference in my spirits or conversation 
that could prepare him at this time for my marrying any more 
than at another. But it was so, I suppose, I daresay there 
was a difference when I was staying with them the other day. 
I believe I did not play with the children quite so much as 
usual. I remember one evening the poor boys saying, " Uncle 
seems always tired now." ' 

The time was coming when the news must spread farther, 
and other persons' reception of it be tried. As soon as Mrs. 
Weston was sufficiently recovered to admit Mr. Woodhouse's 
visits, Emma having it in view that her gentle reasonings 
should be employed in the cause, resolved first to announce it 
at home, and then at Randalls. But how to break it to her 
father at last ! She had bound herself to do it, in such an 
hour of Mr. Knightley's absence, or when it came to the point 
her heart would have failed her, and she must have put it off; 
but Mr. Knightley was to come at such a time, and follow up 
the beginning she was to make. She was forced to speak, 
and to speak cheerfully too. She must not make it a more 
decided subject of misery to him, by a melancholy tone herself. 
She must not appear to think it a misfortune. With all the 
spirits she could command, she prepared him first for some- 
thing strange, and then, in few words, said, that if his consent 
and approbation could be obtained — which, she trusted, would 
be attended with no difficulty, since it was a plan to promote 
the happiness of all — she and Mr. Knightley meant to marry ; 
by which means Hartfield would receive the constant addition 
of that person's company, whom she knew he loved, next to 
his daughters and Mrs. Weston, best in the world. 

Poor man ! — it was at first a considerable shock to him, 
and he tried earnestly to dissuade her from it. She was re- 
minded, more than once, of her having always said she would 
never marry, and assured that it would be a great deal better 
for her to remain single ; and told of poor Isabella, and poor 
Miss Taylor. But it would not do. Emma hung about him 
affectionately, and smiled, and said it must be so ; and that 
he must not class her with Isabella and Mrs. Weston, whose 
marriages taking them from Hartfield had, indeed, made a 
melancholy change ; but she was not going from Hartfield ; 

419 




Emma hung aSovt hiTn affectioitately. 



EMMA 

she should be always there ; she was introducing no change in 
their numbers or their comforts but for the better ; and she 
was very sure that he would be a great deal the happier for 
having Mr. Knightley always at hand, when he were once got 
used to the idea. Did not he love Mr. Knightley very much ? 
He would not deny that he did, she was sure. Whom did he 
ever want to consult on business but Mr. Knightley ? Who 
was so useful to him, who so ready to write his letters, who so 
glad to assist him ? Who so cheerful, so attentive, so attached 
to him ? Would not he like to have him always on the spot ? 
Yes. That was all very true. Mr. Knightley could not be 
there too often ; he should be glad to see him every day : but 
they did see him every day as it was. Why could not they 
go on as they had done ? 

Mr. Woodhouse could not be soon reconciled ; but the 
worst was overcome, the idea was given ; time and continual 
repetition must do the rest. To Emma's entreaties and 
assurances succeeded Mr. Knightley's, whose fond praise of 
her gave the subject even a kind of welcome ; and he was 
soon used to be talked to by each on every fair occasion. 
They had all the assistance which Isabella could give, by 
letters of the strongest approbation ; and Mrs. Weston was 
ready, on the first meeting, to consider the subject in the 
most serviceable light ; first, as a settled, and, secondly, as a 
good one — well aware of the nearly equal importance of the 
two recommendations to Mr. Woodhouse's mind. It was 
agreed upon, as what was to be ; and everybody by whom 
he was used to be guided assuring him that it would be for 
his happiness, and having some feelings himself which almost 
admitted it, he began to think that some time or other, in 
another year or two, perhaps, it might not be so very bad if 
the marriage did take place. 

Mrs. Weston was acting no part, feigning no feelings in all 
that she said to him in favour of the event. She had been 
extremely surprised, never more so, than when Emma first 
opened the affair to her ; but she saw in it only increase of 
happiness to all, and had no scruple in urging him to the 
utmost. She had such a regard for Mr. Knightley, as to 
think he deserved even her dearest Emma ; and it was in 
every respect so proper, suitable, and unexceptionable a 
connection, and in one respect, one point of the highest 

421 



EMMA 

importance, so peculiarly eligible, so singularly fortunate, that 
now it seemed as if Emma could not safely have attached 
herself to any other creature, and that she had herself been 
the stupidest of beings in not having thought of it and wished 
it long ago. How very few of those men in a rank of life to 
address Emma would have renounced their own home for 
Hartfield ! And who but Mr. Knightley could know and 
bear with Mr. Woodhouse, so as to make such an arrange- 
ment desirable ! The difficulty of disposing of poor Mr. 
Woodhouse had been always felt in her husband's plans and 
her own, for a marriage between Frank and Emma. How to 
settle the claims of Enscombe and Hartfield had been a 
continual impediment — less acknowledged by Mr. Weston 
than by herself — but even he had never been able to finish 
the subject better than by saying, — ' Those matters will take 
care of themselves ; the young people will find a way.' But 
here there was nothing to be shifted off in a wild speculation 
on the future. It was all right, all open, all equal. No 
sacrifice on any side worth the name. It was a union of 
the highest promise of felicity in itself, and without one real, 
rational difficulty to oppose or delay it. 

Mrs. Weston, with her baby on her knee, indulging in 
such reflections as these, was one of the happiest women in 
the world. If anything could increase her delight, it was 
perceiving that the baby would soon have outgrown its first 
set of caps. 

The news was universally a surprise wherever it spread ; and 
Mr. Weston had his five minutes' share of it ; but five minutes 
were enough to familiarise the idea to his quickness of mind. 
He saw the advantages of the match, and rejoiced in them with 
all the constancy of his wife ; but the wonder of it was very 
soon nothing ; and by the end of an hour he was not far from 
believing that he had always foreseen it. 

' It is to be a secret, I conclude,' said he. ' These matters 
are always a secret, till it is found out that everybody knows 
them. Only let me be told when I may speak out. I wonder 
whether Jane has any suspicion.' 

He went to Highbury the next morning and satisfied him- 
self on that point. He told her the news. Was not she like 
a daughter, his eldest daughter ? — he must tell her ; and Miss 
Bates being present, it passed, of course, to Mrs. Cole, Mrs. 

422 




It passed to Mrs. Cole, Mrs. Perry , and Mrs. Eiton. 



EMMA 

Perry, and Mrs. Elton, immediately afterwards. It was no more 
than the principals were prepared for ; they • had calculated, 
from the time of its being known at Randalls, how soon it 
would be over Highbury ; and were thinking of themselves, 
as the evening wonder in many a family circle, with great 
sagacity. 

In general, it was a very well approved match. Some 
might think him, and others might think her, the most in 
luck. One set might recommend their all removing to Don- 
well, and leaving Hartfield for the John Knightleys ; and 
another might predict disagreements among their servants ; 
but yet, upon the whole, there was no serious objection raised, 
except in one habitation — the Vicarage. There, the surprise 
was not softened by any satisfaction. Mr. Elton cared little 
about it, compared with his wife ; he only hoped ' the young 
lady's pride would now be contented ' ; and supposed ' she had 
always meant to catch Knightley if she could ' ; and, on the 
point of hving at Hartfield, could daringly exclaim, ' Rather he 
than I ! ' But Mrs. Elton was very much discomposed indeed. 
' Poor Knightley ! poor fellow ! — sad business for him. She 
was extremely concerned ; for, though very eccentric, he had 
a thousand good qualities. How could he be so taken in ? 
Did not think him at all in love — not in the least. Poor 
Knightley ! There would be an end of all pleasant intercourse 
with him. How happy he had been to come and dine with 
them whenever they asked h^m ! But that would be all over 
now. Poor fellow ! No more exploring parties to Donwell 
made for her. Oh no ; there would be a Mrs. Knightley to 
throw cold water on everything. Extremely disagreeable ! 
But she was not at all sorry that she had abused the house- 
keeper the other day. Shocking plan, living together. It 
would never do. She knew a family near Maple Grove who 
had tried it, and been obliged to separate before the end of 
the first quarter.' 



CHAPTER LIV 

Time passed on. A few more to-morrows, and the party 
from London would be arriving. It was an alarming change ; 

424 



EMMA 

and Emma was thinking of it one morning, as what must 
bring a great deal to agitate and grieve her, when Mr. 
Knightley came in, and distressing thoughts were put by. 
After the first chat of pleasure, he was silent ; and then, in a 
graver tone, began with — 

' I have something to tell you, Emma ; some news.' 

' Good or bad ? ' said she quickly, looking up in his face. 

' I do not know which it ought to be called.' 

' Oh, good, I am sure. I see it in your countenance. You 
are trying not to smile.' 

' I am afraid,' said he, composing his features, ' I am very 
much afraid, my dear Emma, that you will not smile when you 
hear it.' 

' Indeed ! but why so ? — I can hardly imagine that any- 
thing which pleases or amuses you should not please and 
amuse me too.' 

' There is one subject,' he replied, ' I hope but one, on 
which we do not think alike.' He paused a moment, again 
smiling, with his eyes fixed on her face. ' Does nothing occur 
to you ? Do not you recollect ? Harriet Smith.' 

Her cheeks flushed at the name, and she felt afraid of 
something, though she knew not what. 

' Have you heard from her yourself this morning ? ' cried 
he. ' You have, I believe, and know the whole.' 

' No, I have not : I know nothing ; pray tell me.' 

' You are prepared for the worst, I see ; and very bad it is. 
Harriet Smith marries Robert Martin.' 

Emma gave a start, which did not seem like being prepared ; 
and her eyes, in eager gaze, said, ' No, this is impossible ! ' 
but her lips were closed. 

' It is so, indeed ! ' continued Mr. Knightley ; ' I have 
it from Robert Martin himself. He left me not half an hour 
ago,' 

She was still looking at him with the most speaking 
amazement. 

' You like it, my Emma, as little as I feared — I wish our 
opinions were the same. But in time they will. Time, you 
may be very sure, will make one or the other of us think 
differently ; and, in the meanwhile, we need not talk much on 
the subject.' 

' You mistake me, you quite mistake me,' she replied, 

425 



EMMA 

exerting herself. ' It is not that such a circumstance would 
now make me unhappy, but I cannot believe it. It seems an 
impossibility ! You cannot mean to say that Harriet Smith 
has accepted Robert Martin. You cannot mean that he has 
even proposed to her again — yet. You only mean that he 
intends it.' 

' I mean that he has done it,' answered Mr. Knightley, 
with smiling but determined decision, ' and been accepted.' 

' Good God ! ' she cried. ' Well ! ' — Then having recourse 
to her work-basket, in excuse for leaning down her face, and 
concealing all the exquisite feelings of delight and entertain- 
ment which she knew she must be expressing, she added, 
' Well, now tell me everything ; make this intelligible to me. 
How, where, when ? Let me know it all. I never was more 
surprised — but it does not make me unhappy, I assure you. 
How — how has it been possible ? ' 

* It is a very simple story. He went to town on business 
three days ago, and I got him to take charge of some papers 
which I was wanting to send to John. He delivered these 
papers to John, at his chambers, and was asked by him to join 
their party the same evening to Astley's. They were going to 
take the two eldest boys to Astley's. The party was to be our 

brother and sister, Henry, John , and Miss Smith. My 

friend Robert could not resist. They called for him in their 
way ; were all extremely amused ; and my brother asked him 
to dine with them the next day, which he did, and in the course 
of that visit (as I understand) he found an opportunity of 
speaking to Harriet ; and certainly did not speak in vain. She 
made him, by her acceptance, as happy even as he is deserv- 
ing. He came down by yesterday's coach, and was with me 
this morning, immediately after breakfast, to report his pro- 
ceedings, first on my affairs, and then on his own. This is all 
that I can relate of the how, where, and when. Your friend 
Harriet will make a much longer history when you see her. 
She will give you all the minute particulars, which only 
woman's language can make interesting. In our communica- 
tions we deal only in the great. However, I must say that 
Robert Martin's heart seemed for ///;;/, and to ;;z^, very over- 
flowing ; and that he did mention, without its being much to 
the purpose, that on quitting their box at Astley's, my brother 
took charge of Mrs. John Knightley and little John, and he 

426 



EMMA 

followed, with Miss Smith and Henry ; and that at one time 
they were in such a crowd as to make Miss Smith rather 
uneasy.' 

He stopped. Emma dared not attempt any immediate 
reply. To speak, she was sure would be to betray a most 
unreasonable degree of happiness. She must wait a moment, 
or he would think her mad. Her silence disturbed him ; and 
after observing her a little while, he added — 

' Emma, my love, you said that this circumstance would not 
now make you unhappy ; but I am afraid it gives you more 
pain than you expected. His situation is an evil ; but you 
must consider it as what satisfies your friend : and I will answer 
for your thinking better and better of him as you know him 
more : his good sense and good principles would delight you. 
As far as the man is concerned, you could not wish your friend 
in better hands. His rank in society I would alter if I could ; 
which is saying a great deal, I assure you, Emma. You laugh 
at me about William Larkins ; but I could quite as ill spare 
Robert Martin.' 

He wanted her to look up and smile ; and having now 
brought herself not to smile too broadly, she did, cheerfully 
answering — 

' You need not be at any pains to reconcile me to the match. 
I think Harriet is doing extremely well. Her connections may 
be worse than his : in respectability of character, there can be 
no doubt that they are. I have been silent from surprise 
merely, excessive surprise. You cannot imagine how suddenly 
it has come on me ! how peculiarly unprepared I was ! for I 
had reason to believe her very lately more determined against 
him, much more than she was before.' 

' You ought to know your friend best,' replied Mr. Knight- 
ley ; 'but I should say she was a good-tempered, soft-hearted 
girl, not likely to be very, very determined against any young 
man who told her he loved her.' 

Emma could not help laughing as she answered, ' Upon 
my word, I believe you know her quite as well as I do. But, 
Mr. Knightley, are you perfectly sure that she has absolutely 
and downright accepted him ? I could suppose she might in 
time, but can she already ? Did not you misunderstand him ? 
You were both talking of other things ; of business, shows of 
cattle, or new drills ; and might not you, in the confusion of 

427 



EMMA 

so many subjects, mistake him ? It was not Harriet's hand 
that he was certain of — it was the dimensions of some famous 
ox.' 

The contrast between the countenance and air of Mr. 
Knightley and Robert Martin was, at this moment, so strong 
to Emma's feeHngs, and so strong was the recollection of 
all that had so recently passed on Harriet's side, so fresh 
the sound of those words spoken with such emphasis, ' No, 
I hope I know better than to think of Robert Martin,' that 
she was really expecting the intelligence to prove, in some 
measure, premature. It could not be otherwise. 

* Do you dare say this ? ' cried Mr. Knightley, ' Do you 
dare to suppose me so great a blockhead as not to know 
what a man is talking of? What do you deserve?' 

' Oh ! I always deserve the best treatment, because I 
never put up with any other ; and, therefore, you must give 
me a plain, direct answer. Are you quite sure that you 
understand the terms on which Mr. Martin and Harriet 
now are ? ' 

' I am quite sure,' he replied, speaking very distinctly, 
' that he told me she had accepted him ; and that there 
was no obscurity, nothing doubtful, in the words he used ; 
and I think I can give you a proof that it must be so. He 
asked my opinion as to what he was now to do. He knew 
of no one but Mrs. Goddard to whom he could apply for 
information of her relations or friends. Could I mention any- 
thing more fit to be done, than to go to Mrs. Goddard ? I 
assured him that I could not. Then, he said, he would en- 
deavour to see her in the course of this day.' 

' I am perfectly satisfied,' replied Emma, with the brightest 
smiles, ' and most sincerely wish them happy.' 

' You are materially changed since we talked on this sub- 
ject before.' 

' I hope so — for at that time I was a fool.'' 

' And I am changed also ; for I am now very willing to 
grant you all Harriet's good qualities. I have taken some 
pains for your sake, and for Robert Martin's sake (whom I 
have always had reason to believe as much in love with her 
as ever), to get acquainted with her. I have often talked to 
her a good deal. You must have seen that I did. Some- 
times, indeed, I have thought you were half suspecting me 

428 



EMMA 

of pleading poor Martin's cause, which was never the case ; 
but, from all my observations, I am convinced of her being 
an artless, amiable girl, with very good notions, very seriously 
good principles, and placing her happiness in the affections 
and utility of domestic life. Much of this, I have no doubt, 
she may thank you for.' 

' Me !' cried Emma, shaking her head. ' Ah, poor Harriet !' 
She checked herself, however, and submitted quietly to a 
little more praise than she deserved. 

Their conversation was soon afterwards closed by the 
entrance of her father. She was not sorry. She wanted to be 
alone. Her mind was in a state of flutter and wonder, 
which made it impossible for her to be collected. She was 
in dancing, singing, exclaiming spirits ; and till she had 
moved about and talked to herself, and laughed and re- 
flected, she could be fit for nothing rational. 

Her father's business was to announce James's being gone 
out to put the horses to, preparatory to their now daily 
drive to Randalls ; and she had, therefore, an immediate 
excuse for disappearing. 

The joy, the gratitude, the exquisite delight of her sensa- 
tions may be imagined. The sole grievance and alloy thus 
removed in the prospect of Harriet's welfare, she was really in 
danger of becoming too happy for security. What had she to 
wish for ? Nothing, but to grow more worthy of him whose 
intentions and judgment had been ever so superior to her own. 
Nothing, but that the lessons of her past folly might teach her 
humility and circumspection in future. 

Serious she was, very serious, in her thankfulness and in 
her resolutions ; and yet there was no preventing a laugh, 
sometimes in the very midst of them. She must laugh at such 
a close — such an end of the doleful disappointment of five 
weeks back — such a heart — such a Harriet ! 

Now there would be pleasure in her returning ; everything 
would be a pleasure : it would be a great pleasure to know 
Robert Martin. 

High in the rank of her most serious and heartfelt felicities 
was the reflection that all necessity of concealment from Mr. 
Knightley would soon be over. The disguise, equivocation, 
mystery, so hateful to her to practise, might soon be over. 
She could now look forward to giving him that full and perfect 

429 



EMMA 

confidence which her disposition was most ready to welcome 
as a duty. 

In the gayest and happiest spirits she set forward with her 
father, not always listening, but always agreeing, to what he 
said ; and, whether in speech or silence, conniving at the 
comfortable persuasion of his being obliged to go to Randalls 
every day, or poor Mrs. Weston would be disappointed. 

They arrived. Mrs. Weston was alone in the drawing- 
room. But hardly had they been told of the baby, and Mr. 
Woodhouse received the thanks for coming, which he asked 
for, when a glimpse was caught through the blind of two 
figures passing near the window. 

' It is Frank and Miss Fairfax,' said Mrs. Weston. ' I was 
just going to tell you of our agreeable surprise in seeing him 
arrive this morning. He stays till to-morrow, and Miss 
Fairfax has been persuaded to spend the day with us. They 
are coming in, I hope.' 

In half a minute they were in the room. Emma was 
extremely glad to see him ; but there was a degree of confusion, 
a number of embarrassing recollections, on each side. They 
met readily and smiling, but with a consciousness which at 
first allowed little to be said ; and having all sat down again, 
there was for some time such a blank in the circle that Emma 
began to doubt whether the wish now indulged, which she had 
long felt, of seeing Frank Churchill once more, and of seeing 
him with Jane, would yield its proportion of pleasure. When 
Mr. Weston joined the party, however, and when the baby was 
fetched, there was no longer a want of subject or animation, or 
of courage and opportunity for Frank Churchill to draw near 
her and say — 

' I have to thank you. Miss Woodhouse, for a very kind, 
forgiving message, in one of Mrs. Weston's letters. I hope 
time has not made you less willing to pardon : I hope you do 
not retract what you then said.' 

' No, indeed,' cried Emma, most happy to begin ; ' not in 
the least. I am particularly glad to see and shake hands with 
you, and to give you joy in person.' 

He thanked her with all his heart, and continued some 
time to speak with serious feeling of his gratitude and happi- 
ness. 

' Is not she looking well ?' said he, turning his eyes towards 

430 



EMMA 

Jane, — ' better than she ever used to do ? You see how my 
father and Mrs. Weston doat upon her.' 

But his spirits were soon rising again ; and, with laughing 
eyes, after mentioning the expected return of the Campbells, 
he named the name of Dixon, Emma blushed, and forbade 
its being pronounced in her hearing. 

' I can never think of it,' she cried, ' without extreme 
shame.' 

'The shame,' he answered, *is all mine, or ought to be. 
But is it possible that you had no suspicion ? I mean of late : 
early, I know, you had none.' 

* I never had the smallest, I assure you.' 

' That appears quite wonderful. I was once very near, — 
and I wish I had ; it would have been better. But though I 
was always doing wrong things, they were very bad wrong 
things, and such as did me no service. It would have been a 
much better transgression, had I broken the bond of secrecy 
and told you everything.' 

' It is now not worth a regret,' said Emma. 

' I have some hope,' resumed he, ' of my uncle's being 
persuaded to pay a visit at Randalls ; he wants to be in- 
troduced to her. When the Campbells are returned, we 
shall meet them in London, and continue there, I trust, till 
we may carry her northward ; but now, I am at such a dis- 
tance from her — is not it hard. Miss Woodhouse ? Till this 
morning, we have not once met since the day of reconcilia- 
tion. Do not you pity me ? ' 

Emma spoke her pity so very kindly, that, with a sudden 
accession of gay thought, he cried — 

'Ah! by the bye,' — then sinking his voice, and looking 
demure for the moment, — 'I hope Mr. Knightley is well?' 
He paused. She coloured and laughed. ' I know you 
saw my letter, and think you may remember my wish in 
your favour. Let me return your congratulations. I assure 
you that I have heard the news with the warmest interest 
and satisfaction. He is a man whom I cannot presume to 
praise.' 

Emma was delighted, and only wanted him to go on in 
the same style ; but his mind was the next moment in his 
own concerns and with his own Jane, and his next words 
were — 

431 



EMMA 

* Did you ever see such a skin ? such smoothness, such 
delicacy, and yet without being actually fair. One cannot 
call her fair. It is a most uncommon complexion, with her 
dark eyelashes and hair — a most distinguishing complexion ! 
So peculiarly the lady in it. Just colour enough for beauty.' 

' I have always admired her complexion,' replied Emma, 
archly ; ' but do not I remember the time when you found 
fault with her for being so pale ? When we first began to 
talk of her. Have you quite forgotten ? ' 

' Oh no ! — what an impudent dog I was ! — how could I 
dare ' 

But he laughed so heartily at the recollection, that Emma 
could not help saying — 

' I do suspect that in the midst of your perplexities at 
that time, you had very great amusement in tricking us all. 
I am sure you had. I am sure it was a consolation to you.' 

* Oh no, no, no! — how can you suspect me of such a 
thing ? I was the most miserable wretch.' 

' Not quite so miserable as to be insensible to mirth. I 
am sure it was a source of high entertainment to you to 
feel that you were taking us all in. Perhaps I am the readier 
to suspect, because, to tell you the truth, I think it might 
have been some amusement to myself in the same situation. 
I think there is a little likeness between us.' 

He bowed. 

' If not in our dispositions,' she presently added, with a 
look of true sensibility, ' there is a likeness in our destiny ; 
the destiny which bids fair to connect us with two characters 
so much superior to our own.' 

' True, true,' he answered warmly. ' No, not true on 
your side. You can have no superior, but most true on 
mine. She is a complete angel. Look at her. Is not 
she an angel in every gesture ? Observe the turn of her 
throat. Observe her eyes, as she is looking up at my 
father. You will be glad to hear (inclining his head, and 
whispering seriously) that my uncle means to give her all my 
aunt's jewels. They are to be new set. I am resolved 
to have some in an ornament for the head. Will not it be 
beautiful in her dark hair ? ' 

' Very beautiful indeed,' replied Emma ; and she spoke 
so kindly, that he gratefully burst out — 

432 



EMMA 

* How delighted I am to see you again ! and to see you 
in such excellent looks ! I would not have missed this 
meeting for the world. I should certainly have called at 
Hartfield had you failed to come.' 

The others had been talking of the child, Mrs. Weston 
giving an account of a little alarm she had been under the 
evening before, from the infant's appearing not quite well. 
She believed she had been foolish, but it had alarmed her, 
and she had been within half a minute of sending for Mr. 
Perry. Perhaps she ought to be ashamed, but Mr. Weston 
had been almost as uneasy as herself In ten minutes, how- 
ever, the child had been perfectly well again. This was her 
history ; and particularly interesting it was to Mr. Woodhouse, 
who commended her very much for thinking of sending for 
Perry, and only regretted that she had not done it. 'She 
should always send for Perry, if the child appeared in the 
slightest degree disordered, were it only for a moment. She 
could not be too soon alarmed, nor send for Perry too often. 
It was a pity, perhaps, that he had not come last night ; for, 
though the child seemed well now, very well considering, it 
would probably have been better if Perry had seen it.' 

Frank Churchill caught the name. 

' Perry ! ' said he to Emma, and trying, as he spoke, to 
catch Miss Fairfax's eye. ' My friend Mr. Perry ! What 
are they saying about Mr. Perry ? Has he been here this 
morning ? And how does he travel now ? Has he set up 
his carriage ? ' 

Emma soon recollected, and understood him ; and while she 
joined in the laugh, it was evident from Jane's countenance 
that she too was really hearing him, though trying to seem deaf 

' Such an extraordinary dream of mine ! ' he cried. * I can 
never think of it without laughing. She hears us, she hears 
us, Miss Woodhouse. I see it in her cheek, her smile, her 
vain attempt to fro^vn. Look at her. Do not you see that, 
at this instant, the very passage of her own letter, which sent 
me the report, is passing under her eye ; that the whole 
blunder is spread before her ; that she can attend to nothing 
else, though pretending to listen to the others ? ' 

Jane was forced to smile completely, for a moment ; and 
the smile partly remained as she turned towards him, and 
said in a conscious, low, yet steady voice — 
2 F 433 



EMMA 

* How you can bear such recollections is astonishing to 
me ! They %vill sometimes obtrude : but how can you court 
them ? ' 

He had a great deal to say in return, and very entertain- 
ingly ; but Emma's feelings were chiefly with Jane in the 
argument : and on leaving Randalls, and falling naturally 
into a comparison of the two men, she felt that, pleased as 
she had been to see Frank Churchill, and really regarding 
him as she did with friendship, she had never been more 
sensible of Mr. Knightley's high superiority of character. 
The happiness of this most happy day received its comple- 
tion in the animated contemplation of his worth which this 
comparison produced. 



CHAPTER LV 

If Emma had still, at intervals, an anxious feeling for Harriet, 
a momentary doubt of its being possible for her to be really 
cured of her attachment to Mr. Knightley, and really able 
to accept another man from unbiassed inclination, it was not 
long that she had to suffer from the recurrence of any such 
uncertainty. A very few days brought the party from London ; 
and she had no sooner an opportunity of being one hour 
alone with Harriet, than she became perfectly satisfied, 
unaccountable as it was, that Robert Martin had thoroughly 
supplanted Mr. Knightley, and was now forming all her views 
of happiness. 

Harriet was a little distressed — did look a little foolish at 
first ; but having once owned that she had been presump- 
tuous and silly, and self-deceived, before, her pain and confu- 
sion seemed to die away with the words, and leave her with- 
out a care for the past, and with the fullest exultation in the 
present and future ; for, as to her friend's approbation, Emma 
had instantly removed every fear of that nature, by meeting 
her with the most unqualified congratulations. Harriet was 
most happy to give every particular of the evening at Astley's, 
and the dinner the next day ; she could dwell on it all with 
the utmost delight. But what did such particulars explain .'' 

434 



EMMA' 

The fact was, as Emma could now acknowledge, that Harriet 
had always liked Robert Martin ; and that his continuing to 
love her had been irresistible. Beyond this, it must ever be 
unintelligible to Emma. 

The event, however, was most joyful ; and every day was 
giving her fresh reason for thinking so. Harriet's parentage 
became known. She proved to be the daughter of a trades- 
man, rich enough to afford her the comfortable maintenance 
which had ever been hers, and decent enough to have always 
wished for concealment. Such was the blood of gentility 
which Emma had formerly been so ready to vouch for ! It 
was likely to be as untainted, perhaps, as the blood of 
many a gentleman ; but what a connection had she been 
preparing for Mr. Knightley, or for the Churchills, or even 
for Mr. Elton ! The stain of illegitimacy, unbleached by 
nobility or wealth, would have been a stain indeed. 

No objection was raised on the father's side ; the young 
man was treated liberally ; it was all as it should be : and 
as Emma became acquainted with Robert Martin, who was 
now introduced at Hartfield, she fully acknowledged in him all 
the appearance of sense and worth which could bid fairest for 
her little friend. She had no doubt of Harriet's happiness 
with any good-tempered man ; but with him, and in the home 
he offered, there would be the hope of more, of security, 
stability, and improvement. She would be placed in the midst 
of those who loved her, and who had better sense than her- 
self; retired enough for safety, and occupied enough for 
cheerfulness. She would never be led into temptation, nor 
left for it to find her out. She would be respectable and 
happy ; and Emma admitted her to be the luckiest creature in 
the world, to have created so steady and persevering an 
affection in such a man ; or, if not quite the luckiest, to yield 
only to herself. 

Harriet, necessarily drawn away by her engagements with 
the Martins, was less and less at Hartfield, which was not to 
be regretted. The intimacy between her and Emma must 
sink ; their friendship must change into a calmer sort of 
goodwill ; and, fortunately, what ought to be, and must be, 
seemed already beginning, and in the most gradual, natural 
manner. 

Before the end of September, Emma attended Harriet to 

435 



EMMA 

church, and saw her hand bestowed on Robert Martin with 
so complete a satisfaction, as no remembrances, even con- 
nected with Mr. Elton as he stood before them, could impair. 
Perhaps, indeed, at that time, she scarcely saw Mr. Elton, but 
as the clergyman whose blessing at the altar might next fall 
on herself. Robert Martin and Harriet Smith, the latest 
couple engaged of the three, were the first to be married. 

Jane Fairfax had already quitted Highbury, and was re- 
stored to the comforts of her beloved home with the Campbells. 
The Mr. Churchills were also in town ; and they were only 
waiting for November. 

The intermediate month was the one fixed on, as far as 
they dared, by Emma and Mr. Knightley. They had deter- 
mined that their marriage ought to be concluded while John 
and Isabella were still at Hartfield, to allow them the fort- 
night's absence in a tour to the sea-side, which was the plan. 
John and Isabella, and every other friend, were agreed in 
approving it. But Mr. Woodhouse — how was Mr. Woodhouse 
to be induced to consent ? — he, who had never yet alluded to 
their marriage but as a distant event. 

When first sounded on the subject, he was so miserable, 
that they were almost hopeless. A second allusion, indeed, 
gave less pain. He began to think it was to be, and that he 
could not prevent it — a very promising step of the mind on 
its way to resignation. Still, however, he was not happy. 
Nay, he appeared so much otherwise that his daughter's 
courage failed. She could not bear to see him suffering, to 
know him fancying himself neglected ; and though her 
understanding almost acquiesced in the assurance of both the 
Mr. Knightleys, that when once the event were over, his 
distress would be soon over too, she hesitated — s*he could not 
proceed. 

In this state of suspense they were befriended, not by any 
sudden illumination of Mr. Woodhouse's mind, or any wonder- 
ful change of his nervous system, but by the operation of the 
same system in another way. Mrs. Weston's poultry-house 
was robbed one night of all her turkeys, — evidently by the 
ingenuity of man. Other poultry-yards in the neighbourhood 
also suffered. Pilfering was house-breaking to Mr. Wood- 
house's fears. He was very uneasy ; and but for the sense of 
his son-in-law's protection, would have been under wretched 

436 



EMMA 

alarm every night of his life. The strength, resolution, and 
presence of mind of the Mr. Knightleys commanded his fullest 
dependence. While either of them protected him and his, 
Hartfield was safe. But Mr. John Knightley must be in London 
again by the end of the first week in November. 

The result of this distress was that, with a much more 
voluntary, cheerful consent, than his daughter had ever 
presumed to hope for at the moment, she was able to fix her 
wedding-day ; and Mr. Elton was called on, within a month 
from the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Martin, to join the 
hands of Mr. Knightley and Miss Woodhouse. 

The wedding was very much like other weddings, where 
the parties have no taste for finery or parade ; and Mrs. Elton, 
from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all 
extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own. ' Very little 
white satin, very few lace veils ; a most pitiful business ! 
Selina would stare when she heard of it.' But, in spite of 
these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the 
predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the 
ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the 



THE END 



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